Full opening message of FundClass Topic #13, May 1998
Our facilitator for this FundClass topic is Mal Warwick
Even experienced direct mail fundraising pros sometimes overlook the fundamentals, and beginners rarely have opportunities to view the Big Picture. In this online seminar on the basics of the business, I'll hpe to help both novices and long-time practitioners gain fresh perspective on direct mail strategy. (In other words, even if you know it all, you and I may see it a little differently.)
Sure, such questions as what you put in the PS, what postage rate you use, and how many dollars are returned by a mailing are important -- but they're of secondary importance. They're distracting, unless you're well grounded in the fundamentals.
To WHOM should you mail?
WHAT should you mail them?
WHEN should you mail it?
WHY mail -- i.e., what purpose (or purposes) can you accomplish? What's the point?
HOW does direct mail relate to your organization's other fundraising and marketing activities -- and to your overall mission?
For example: Podunk College wants to launch a $5 million capital campaign two years from now to attract and retain stronger faculty. Its 15,000 living alumni have not been notably generous or responsive to the haphazard annual fund appeals the alumni office has been sending for years, and attendance at reunions has been slight. A lead donor is prepared to put up half the $5 million -- but every dollar must be matched by alumni. How can direct mail help? What sort of direct mail program might make sense for Podunk College?
Or take another example: WeServeYou, a small human services agency in a medium-sized city, has 3,000 donors. Almost all of them have been acquired through a successful annual banquet, which is always well attended. The agency's United Way funding is declining, local government appropriations are uncertain, and the board is nervous. It appears to be time to try new ways to raise money -- to diversify WeServeYou's funding base. Will direct mail work? How?
That should get us started!
Consultant, author, and public speaker Mal Warwick has been involved in the not-for-profit sector for more than 35 years. He has written or edited nine books of interest to nonprofit managers, including the classics Revolution in the Mailbox and How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters. He edits a newsletter, Successful Direct Mail & Telephone Fundraising; and is a popular workshop leader throughout North America.
Mal is the founder and chairman of Mal Warwick & Associates, Inc. (Berkeley, Calif.), a fundraising and marketing agency that serves nonprofit organizations and socially responsible businesses, and is co-founder and vice-chairman of Share Group, Inc. (Somerville, Mass.), a nationwide telephone fundraising and telemarketing firm. Among the hundreds of nonprofits Mal and his colleagues have served over the years are many of the nation's largest and most distinguished charities as well as six Presidential candidates and scores of small, local and regional organizations.
Mal served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador for more than three years. Since 1969 he has lived in Berkeley, California, where he is deeply involved in local community affairs.
This opening message was originally posted on February 1, 1999