Interview with Stan Guimont on The Petrus Development Show
In this episode, Andrew speaks with Stan Guimont, Account Manager with Palmer Non-profit Communications, a commercial direct mail provider that works with the general non-profit world. Stan has been an account manager with Palmer since 2005. As an air force veteran, Stan began working in advertising in the mid eighties, then spent some time as a radio account executive. He then worked for a publishing company whose clients were mostly non-profits. Stan has found a fulfilling career with Palmer using his creativity and natural sales ability to help his clients. He demonstrates a deep and genuine care for his clients and their needs and provides a wealth of knowledge about direct mail best practices.
- have a few meetings to learn about the project/do research/give them books to read/formulate a general plan
- create the copy
- formulate a design
- document comes out of design for approval by executive director, bishop, etc
- production phase: document that expresses the creative side is created and awaits approval
- then data portion begins (a handwritten section is always recommended here)
- For a novice, he recommends reading Tom Ahern’s book, How to Write Fundraising Materials that Raise More Money
- Carefully review your copy
- Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital: 2011 spoke to their development director who told him their development program was flat…just basically getting their money back on fundraising. Their letter looked like a bill. They did a complete 180 for the organization. Went from spending $20K and making $20K to spending $15K and making about $100K. Handwritten mail is more likely to be read, less easy to ignore.
- Land preserve in New York: Produced something in 2017: Outside was grayscale. Inside had full color and was interesting. where the executive director wrote a lot of handwritten notes. Spent $9,000 mailing out 8,000 handwritten notes and they made $300,000.
- There was a movement in 2008-2009 (bad economy, things were tough, especially for philanthropy) big push for social media, and a contracting on mailings.
- Prior to this, phone solicitation used to work really well, but doesn’t anymore
- Mail has come back, but you need something else added. ie: newsletter, something organic, something striking to look at
- Having success with younger generations/millenials using direct mail because it’s a step away from the noise of social media
Tracking cross-channel donations is a challenge, but make it easy on yourself and your donors – Low-tech – Have a simple donate button on your website. Seed yourself in on the mailing. The day the mail arrives, look at the difference in the previous two weeks and the next two weeks for simple benchmarking.
- Don’t put the same thing in front of donors twice in a row
- How often you mail depends on the organization (some religious organizations mail every month, some organizations mail twice a year and both are appropriate)
- A newsletter is a soft ask (but you’ve got to make it interesting) Ex: He is involved with Operation Bootstrap Africa – operate a girl’s school in Tanzania, support a nursing school and some other schools in Kenya and Madagascar. The mission is, “We have a girl’s school.” The sub text is, if you take a girl out of a village they will avoid a horrible life involving being forced into a child marriage and cultural abuse. Recent story they learned of a former student who is now an embassy worker at the Tanzanian Embassy in Washington D.C. The newsletter puts a name and a face with the mission and shows the impact they have.
- Simplify your language (experience what you’re sending from the perspective of the donor)
- If it is an appeal letter, there has to be asks in there. It has to be obvious/immediate impact (too soft of an ask is a big mistake)
- It depends on the giving level. $1000 threshold. Variable ask on a letter based on the last gift.
- If someone gave over $1000 previously, just say how generous their last gift was and say if they could give again, this is the impact their gift would have (the larger it gets, based on last gift, giving history – might be better to just give them a call)
- Put a line in there: “I would like to donate a different amount.”
- Option to set up monthly/planned giving should be in every communication you send out
What options are best for the Remittance piece?
- It depends on the organization. He usually defaults to the remittance card with pre populated information and an envelope.
- Some organizations really like the remittance envelope with the flap
- Do an AB test with it: Randomize it and send half one way and half the other and see what the results are
- He really doesn’t like window envelopes (not charming)
- Stop mailing to them if they’re deceased (many organizations never run their list through the social security database)
- Look back 36 months and if they haven’t given, you can keep them in your back pocket, but stop mailing to them
- All of Tom Ahern’s books
- current homelessness in big cities
- Bill Gates
- Example: ALS Bucket Challenge; If people are inspired by a challenge, they’ll give
- “I probably got that advice and didn’t follow it!” Get a better education earlier in life.
- Joe Hanson – First mentor in advertising, Tom Ahern, doesn’t have a third answer
To connect with Stan or for more information about direct mail appeals, email email@example.com or visit the Palmer Printing website and hit the non-profit communications button
- Importance of handwritten notes on your appeals and newsletters
- Impact stories
- Planned giving (make sure that you’ve successfully planted that seed)
- Consider doing an AB test on your next appeal.
Giving to religious causes vastly exceeds any other category in the nonprofit sector, but faith-based organizations often struggle the most with fundraising effectively. Join Andrew Robison, President of Petrus Development, as he explores this topic through honest and revealing conversations with church leaders, executive directors and development professionals from the nonprofit community.
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