August 6, 2019
By Lily Doctoroff
Introduction to Mailings
Here at NDTC, we like to remind candidates that there are three limited resources on every campaign; time, money, and people.
Since you can’t extend the day and there are only so many volunteers you can support it’s important to focus on fundraising to have a strong campaign.
There are numerous ways to raise money for your campaign, but we want to talk specifically about direct mail fundraising. Also known as fundraising mail, direct mail is a great tool to contact your network for money and can often bring in a lot of donations.
Read on to learn about the costs and benefits of direct mail fundraising and whether it’s right for your campaign.
What is Direct Mail Fundraising?
First things first – what’s direct mail fundraising?
Simply put direct mail fundraising is an ask in writing. Through letters and flyers, a candidate motivates potential donors to contribute to their campaign with donations and support.
(Learn more about how to make the perfect ask in our course here)
You’ve probably received fundraising mail before from different organizations, if not from a political candidate. These tend to be letters packed with information and covered in glossy, professional photos.
But, your direct mail doesn’t have to look like that. Direct fundraising mail can be formal letters with your official letterhead. Or your mailings could simply be a note asking for donations at the end of your yearly holiday cards.
Things to Consider
Regardless of what your mail looks like before you begin drafting letters and buying stamps there are several components of direct mailing to consider.
To guarantee your mailings produce donations the best people to start with are in your Personal Rolodex. These are your friends and family – the people who are already likely to support your campaign.
Like call time, the success of your direct fundraising mail is determined primarily by targeting the right people and making the right ask.
However, don’t be afraid to send out mailings to people outside your inner circle. Work acquaintances, local party leaders, and other community members are great potential donors.
(If you’re interested in how to map out your network to figure out the best people to contact check out our Building Your Network: Donors, Volunteers, and Validators course.)
If you’re familiar with direct mailing then you already know that many people don’t take the time to read the entire letter.
Many simply skim their mail and move on. Therefore it’s important to include your ask in multiple places and make sure it’s visible. Think bold fonts and positive action words to pull focus to what you want them to do – donate!
Unlike campaign events and call time, with direct fundraising mail, it’s impossible to talk to potential donors directly. Therefore, it’s important to convey your passion and motivation on paper.
To ensure your mailings properly convey your message and excitement create a few drafts. Show your drafts to people on your team and get their feedback. This will ensure you’re on message. Also, it will prevent little errors, like spelling and grammar mistakes, which would have gone unnoticed.
(If you’re interested in learning more about how to create a solid campaign message check out our Crafting Your Message course)
If you decide to use mailings it’s incredibly important to keep records of who mailings are sent to and who responds.
With an ongoing record, you can keep track of who responds to your mailings so you can adjust your lists accordingly.
Those who respond with donations, attendance at campaign events, and/or offers to volunteer should be contacted multiple times (this is called resoliciting). Those who never respond can be removed from your mailing lists.
Is Direct Mail Fundraising Right For Your Campaign?
Direct mail can be a great fundraising tool, but that doesn’t mean it is right for every campaign.
Like anything else in your campaign, direct mail costs resources.
Unlike other fundraising tactics like call time which costs time, direct mail costs money. You’ll need to pay for printing, envelopes, and postage. It may not seem like too much, but it can add up.
So, if you have a large network of likely donors, mailings might be a great way to fundraise. But if you’re looking at primarily contacting people outside your network, also known as “cold lists,” then you might want to stick to other (cheaper) fundraising methods.
Whether you choose to use direct mail and ads depends on your district, race, and strategy. So before you make your decision check out our Raising Money course to learn about what fundraising methods are best for your race.