The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) reports print response rates are outperforming digital. Yet fundraising marketing experts are touting technology based marketing automation solutions. And planned giving departments are considering it as a way to lower their costs (while making the same impact).
The DMA must be crazy, right?
Print is expensive
Print is time consuming
Print requires coordinating with multiple providers (copy writers, designers, printers, mail shops, etc.)
Print can’t measure open rates or click throughs
Print doesn’t benefit from SEO
Print doesn’t work with social sharing
Print is for old folks
Print is obsolete
Print is dead!
Print is dead? Really? Hmmmm…
Someone better tell that to the college admissions departments who’ve been flooding our mailbox since my daughter took her PSATs two years ago. Not a day has passed (okay maybe a few) that I’ve not come home to a stack of mail addressed to my millennial child. What are these admissions offices thinking? What a waste! The time. The money. The landfill. Millennials don’t read mail. Duh!?!? Send them email. Tweet something. Post on Instagram or Snap Chat. Anything but print!
I’ll tell you what these admissions departments are thinking. In fact, I’ll tell you what they know – and you should know, too.
Print is tangible
Print is beautiful
Print is durable
Print is portable
Print promotes online channels
Print puts you in control
And here’s why that matters to admissions departments and why it should matter to the planned giving department, too.
Like a four-year degree, a bequest represents a significant financial decision. A four-year degree costs in the range of $80,000 to $300,000 – in the same range as a typical bequest.
Like a college bound student, your donors have a lot of choices. Students begin their college search with dozens of schools and narrow it down to just a few. In their lifetimes, donors write checks to dozens of charities, but leave bequests to just a few.
Like the college application process, gift planning is a family affair. As easy as it is for colleges to stuff my daughter’s inbox with daily emails (they do and she hasn’t opened any of them), it’s impossible for them to stuff mine or my wife’s – they don’t have our email addresses.
Like the decision of where to apply and where to attend college, a bequest is a contemplated decision, made over time. Interest in the process ebbs and flows. Interest in a particular college ebbs and flows. Life happens. Circumstances change.
While rapidly changing marketing technology revolutionizes the way sellers (fundraisers) communicate with buyers (donors), we need to recognize that not all purchases (gifts) are the same. Planned gifts are significant. A significant decision for your donors. Significant revenue for your organization. Too significant to abandon a tried and true, personalized, targeted direct mail strategy…like the one college admissions departments use to attract the next crop of Millennials to their schools.
So before you scrap your direct mail program in favor of the latest, cost-saving, digital marketing innovation, consider what the leading planned giving programs are doing.
1. Devise a strategy that generates the leads you need to meets your goals – you need donors who want to talk to you about making a planned gift.
2. Allocate a budget commensurate with the results you’re trying to achieve – you’re soliciting bequests, not $50 gifts to the annual fund.
3. Commit to a plan to communicate relevantly, with appropriate frequency, and do it consistently – planned gifts are made on your donors’ timelines, not yours.
Planned Giving Marketing works with leading colleges, independent schools, healthcare foundations, and other causes to create highly effective direct marketing campaigns that resonate with donors and create more planned giving opportunities for their organizations.