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The Loyalty Letter

E-news that helps you keep donors connected (and giving)
to your cause.


December 2009
Published by Lisa Sargent

Dear Reader,

I'm excited to bring you my first-ever case study this month.

It's the story of Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), a Dublin-based nonprofit that overhauled its direct mail donor communications program... and is now seeing some pretty terrific results. Intro and link in Article One.

There's even a sample fundraising letter included for you.

In Article Two? Secret "donor loyalty sauce" for your nonprofit newsletters.

Thank you, as always, for being a subscriber. Thanks to Denisa and her team at MQI, too, for letting me share.

May your holidays -- all that you celebrate -- be filled with love and laughter. Peace and prosperity. Miracles and magic.

And may all your wishes come true in the New Year.
See you in 2010,



Lisa Sargent
Sargent Communications

P.S. Dancing AND fundraising? Zowie! It doesn't get any better: the Pink Glove Dance from Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, on YouTube. Guaranteed to make you smile.

Nonprofit Direct Mail Case Study:
Merchants Quay Ireland

How a Dublin-based charity overhauled its direct mail donor communications, without a big creative agency.

Merchants Quay Ireland in Dublin is a charity serving homeless people, the hungry, and those with addiction problems. In September of 2008, just before the bottom fell out of the economy, they hired U.S.-born Denisa Casement, CFRE, as their Head of Fundraising.

Casement is one of those fundraisers who "gets" direct mail...and the supreme importance of building a relationship with your donors. Mentored by a founder of one of the oldest development consultancies in the U.S., she's worked with both Habitat for Humanity and Ronald McDonald House charities.

But when Casement accepted the lead fundraising role at MQI, one of her first and biggest challenges was simply getting their direct mail program "bedded in."

This meant gathering the random spreadsheets that were serving as an ad hoc donor database...securing companies that could handle data clean-up, printing and mailing...and starting cold with no contacts, getting direct mail ready less than 12 weeks after she'd arrived.

Click here to read the full MQI Case Study

(Free, no registration required. You will be redirected to full case study,
including a link to sample fundraising letter.)

The Secret “Donor Loyalty Sauce” for Your Nonprofit Newsletter?

At around 800 words, adding a cover letter to your direct mail newsletter can work wonders for both response rates and donor loyalty.

One of my specialties is writing one-page, double-sided cover letters that accompany nonprofit newsletters. (And same-size follow-up letters.)

If you don't already include newsletter cover letters as part of your regular donor communications program, there's no time like now to test them.

Newsletter cover letters serve a bunch of great purposes -- they draw donors into the newsletter by introducing a compelling story, build donor loyalty, and can highlight a special event. They also give you a way to make a well-positioned, relevant Ask. (Soft Ask is A-OK.)

I've been on newsletter/cover letter creative teams that regularly raised millions and retained donors with these gems. So anecdotally, I can say that cover letters work.

But in Fundraising123, Merkle gives facts.

Their results on cover letters for nonprofit newsletters:

"We included a separate cover letter from the organization's CEO with the newsletter package sent to frequent givers. The response rate from those receiving the cover letter increased by 16.6% compared to those who received no cover letter. When the cost of the cover letter was added to the overall cost of the package, net revenue remained unchanged; however, the cover letter may contribute to a stronger relationship and increase donor loyalty."

Of course, like Merkle, you'll want to consider any additional costs... but the bump in response rates that they report should get you thinking, at the very least.

P.S. Subscribing to The Loyalty Letter is easy: scroll up for handy sign-up form at the top of this page.   


And lastly, if ever you have a question on donor communications, send it along to The Loyalty Letter. All you have to do is:

Email: lisa@lisasargent.com.

Or call: 1-860-851-9755.

On Skype: lisa.sargent96.



 
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