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Apple or Pumpkin?

It’s your turn to host Thanksgiving dinner, and you really want to impress your family and make everyone happy. This year, no family drama, right? How on earth do you achieve that?!

Aunt Jen can’t abide pumpkin pie. Marcus is now a vegan. Uncle Joe is going to watch football regardless, even if his brother is trying to pull him to the poker table. Being the good host that you are, you give them choices and options so everyone can have some level of satisfaction and comfort.

In many ways, planning your year-end appeals is no different than hosting Thanksgiving. You want to maximize the good that comes from it without turning yourself into a pretzel. (add pretzels to the grocery list!) To maximize the good, you have to show that you know your donor just like you know your guests.

It’s called segmenting. You tailor the message based on what you know about your constituent. Maybe they volunteer but don’t yet give monetary gifts. Maybe they give the same amount every year to one special fund. To make sure that each of these donors responds generously to this appeal, you speak to them. The same message is not going to be as effective as something that speaks to each of them.

Admittedly, it is more work to tailor messages, but it’s not that hard or time-consuming. The bulk of your organization’s message would be present in each letter, but the story that leads into it might be different. The graphics might be different depending on the donor’s age. Maybe there’s a special sentence acknowledging faithful donations over the years. Or an email with a link to your staff singing carols.

The ways that segmenting can be accomplished are only limited to your imagination and the capabilities of your mail house. Your direct mail account rep should be able to help you with suggestions and options. As sure as Uncle Joe won’t move from the couch, you will be rewarded with an increase in the number and amount of donations.

In our next blog post, we’ll talk about the next best part of list-making, the dirty data in the list itself. Now if you could pass a slice of pumpkin please – with plenty of whipped cream.

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