The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Why do newsletters work?

with one comment

Traditional planned giving newsletters, mailed in an envelope with a reply card and cover letter, continue to be the very best vehicle for identifying qualified legacy prospects.  I have personally been involved in attempts to use letters with brochures, letters inviting donors to join the legacy society, self-mailer newsletters and postcards for this purpose but in each case these options yielded results short of tried-and-true newsletters.  Most of these alternatives are motivated by a desire to find a lower cost alternative to newsletters but the bottom line is that they are not cost-effective if they don’t produce the best and most leads.

The exception to this is postcards, with confidential reply cards part of the format, that offer gift annuities or year-end IRA rollover gifts.  I think it’s the immediacy of the transaction in these cases that make a postcard a good vehicle for this purpose.

But the question remains:  why do newsletters work so well?  I have a theory.  I used to manage a gift catalog for a nonprofit where I once worked. One of the rules of catalog marketing is to offer a wide variety of products at a wide variety of price points in the hope that the largest number of recipients will find something they are willing to buy at a price they are willing to pay.  I think the same logic works in planned giving newsletters.

Because we know that donors are at different life stages and at different points in their estate planning process, newsletters provide enough real estate (space) to cover a wide range of topics, giving donors across the spectrum a better chance of finding information that is relevant.  Maybe that’s why they work so well, or at least better than anything else I’ve tried so far.



Written by Phyllis Freedman

January 11, 2010 at 11:55 pm

One Response

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  1. I think newsletters also work well because the prospect spends more time with them. It’s easy to quickly scan a postcard or brochure and decide you’re done with it. But if a newsletter has articles of interest, many donors will spend a good chunk of time with it. That means your organization is getting their ‘mindshare’ for a longer period.

    One more reason that newsletters work is that they give you more room to talk about the mission — and let’s never forget that most donors are motivated by your mission — not by the tax laws!

    Kathy Swayze

    January 12, 2010 at 10:54 am

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