The United States Postal Service faces huge financial and operational challenges. And word of cuts in service and facility closings sends shudders throughout the marketing industry – including ministries that depend so heavily on direct mail fundraising.
So how should one respond to all this? For starters, we’ve been actively testing a variety of fundraising channels across multiple channels, so the ministries we serve are prepared to deal with changes at the USPS.
We’re also working hard to help ministries make the most of the situation in their existing direct mail programs. Here are 4 ways to ride the waves of uncertainty and 2 opportunities to directly benefit from the situation.
1. Consider strategies that encourage your best donors to become pledgers using “other-than-traditional-mail” solutions like Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or automatic credit card payments. Pledgers give significantly more per year and have higher retention rates than single gift donors.
2. Work closely with your Masterworks account team to create a strategic mail plan that helps avoid excess mail processing and alleviates time-consuming handling by the USPS. The fewer times the USPS touches your mail, the more likely it will arrive on time and in the most cost-effective manner.
3. Use more first-class postage for your best donors to ensure that the mail is delivered at all . . . and that it’s delivered on time. (See opportunity #1 below to cash in on savings for first-class mail.)
4. Get offline (snail-mail only donors) into a parallel online track for more meaningful contacts and a deepened relationship. Offline donors who have an email address on file, even with no record of giving online, give far more per year and retain and reactivate at higher rates than those who do not have an email address on file. Be sure to offer donors something that they value in return for their email address.
Cash in today on 2 great opportunities . . .
1. Get your 2nd ounce free on first-class automated and presort letters. The free incentive promotion became a permanent USPS program in January. That’s a wonderful opportunity to use more pieces and heavier, higher-quality stock for Major Donors and other high-potential groups. Stuff that envelope as full as possible (up to 1.9 ounces). You pay for only 1 ounce. And recipients won’t be able to resist opening that hefty package to see what’s so important and bulky inside.
2. Include a mobile barcode in your package this summer and receive a 2% discount from the USPS. For the 2nd year in a row, the Post Office will be “giving money away” in July and August to demonstrate the value of physical mail in an increasingly digital world. Link your physical mail to online content via mobile phone scanning codes to get your donors involved in content you want to communicate. Most important, be sure that mobile content drives toward a gift.
No doubt, the USPS will drastically change how it operates in the coming years in order to survive. It’s trying to figure out new relationships with online communication. Ride the wave with us. And cash in on the savings while it’s available.