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Direct Mail Fundraising Is Crucial for Success

By Holly Robichaud

 

Whether you are running for President or State Representative direct mail fundraising should be a major part of your overall finance plan.

      

Twenty years ago the prototype fundraising plan was to assemble a group of wealthy businessmen who raised most of the money in chunks through person to person contact.  Today, campaign fundraising is a complex task involving events, finance committees, personal solicitation, phones, the internet, and Direct Mail. 

      

You raise more money in small average amounts.

      

The key to fundraising nowadays is not only a well-connected finance committee, but also an integrated direct response program.  Although direct mail is considered an expensive method for raising funds, it serves two major purposes.  First, it obviously raises money.  Second, it contacts voters with a targeted message.

      

Direct Mail fundraising is like building a field operation in a local campaign.  Raising small donations from a larger number of people not only fills your coffers, but it also expands your volunteer base.    It is a means of reaching a broad base of individuals and raising funds.

 

Here are the advantages for using direct mail fundraising: 

  • You will increase your cash flow.  Failing to include direct mail in your finance plan will cause a loss as much as 20% of your overall income.  Cutting direct mail out of your plan is like cutting your thumb off your hand.  You can still get things done, but you are limited.
  • You will develop a list of loyal donors and volunteers.  Once someone has donated, they will continue to contribute.  They double-down on their bet.
  • You will build name identification.  For every donor you obtain, you have touched ten voters with a positive message. 
  • You can motivate your supporters.
  • You can demonstrate grassroots support.
  • You build credibility.
  • Direct mail drives people to your web site.  When someone looks at a web site their average visit lasts for 8 minutes which is considerably better than a 30 second sound bite.
  • You can use direct mail to help shape the debate.
  • You can target your message to certain lists.  For example, you can mail doctors with a message on how you support medical malpractice reform.  This targeted mailing will allow you to send a specific message to a certain group of voters and hopefully have the mail pay for itself.
  • You can bring down the average size of your donations.  Often newspapers ridicule campaigns that have a high average contribution size.  Many small donations through direct mail will help offset this potential liability.

Direct mail donors are not the same people who attend events or make major contributions.  Therefore, you need specific programs designed to reach these types of donors. 

  

The key to making direct mail profitable is resolicitation.  Prospecting mail usually yields a 1 to 2% return while resoliciting known donors can produce 10 to 20%.  Therefore, it is essential to build a large master file of donors and resolicit on a regular basis.

 

You can resolicit your master file every six to eight weeks and even more often during the final two months of the campaign.

      

Remember to be creative with your mail and to ask for a specific reason.  Donors want to see that you are building momentum and how their donations fit into the overall plan.  For example, if you are about to launch a wave of radio ads, then send a letter asking your contributors to make another donation to help pay for one of those ads.  Most importantly, you must create a sense of urgency for the donation or the letter will get round filed.

      

The amount of money you invest in direct mail fundraising is worth the effort by ten fold.  The more donors you have the more voters you have committed to your candidacy. 

Holly Robichaud has over 20 years experience in helping
Republicans get elected to office.  She specializes in strategy,
direct mail, voter contact programs, and campaign fundraising.
She can be reached at
Click here to contact this Author


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