Does Coronavirus spell the end for direct mail?

Jo Young By Jo Young

Covid-19 is making direct mail fundraising much tougher – but charities can still find ways to keep supporters engaged, writes Consider Copywriter, Jo Young.

These are uncertain times for many charities. And at times like this, you can’t afford to lose your most loyal supporters.

Older audiences still form a vital part of the fundraising picture. But many still shy away from digital giving, preferring to fill in response devices and give by post.

Yet as we know, their short walk to the Post Office has now become potentially life-threatening – and that poses a new challenge for all of us.

Sensible charities will be investing more in online campaigns for the foreseeable future. But they can’t simply assume their audiences will be heading online with them – or push them too hard in a direction that feels unfamiliar, or uncomfortable.

A nudge in the right direction…

We need to make sure we’re encouraging loyal DM supporters to reconsider their giving habits – and explain why. There are simple ways to do this: by reordering your call to action to lead with digital and telephone donation options, you can nudge supporters in the right direction.

But that’s only the part of the story: we need to make sure supporters feel confident using these channels – and building trust is an important aspect here.

Again, there’s a straightforward way to address this challenge: introduce your supporter or regional care teams – and put real faces and names to the voices at the end of the phone.

Be patient – and keep it simple

Be prepared to spend more time explaining giving processes to your supporters in your mailing. A simple step-by-step guide is a good place to start – and be careful not to over-complicate or confuse.

Make sure that your online presence is crystal clear as well. Create a clear visual connection to the appeal on your website (placing key campaign images and messages front and centre), so that the user experience is straightforward and cohesive.

And if you haven’t already done so, consider simplifying your appeal donation page and limiting data capture – the more complicated their user experience, more daunted your supporter is likely to be.

Remember that digital giving can be a challenge for older audiences, so always make sure there’s someone they can contact if they get stuck.

Use trustworthy voices

Don’t be afraid of stating urgency – or using trusted voices from within your organisation to make the case for support.

If your CEO, or an on-the-ground worker can explain why donations are needed, your audience is more likely to step out of their comfort zone.

And if all else fails…

Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to take all your supporters online with you. So make sure that you’re still offering them alternative options as well – either by giving over the phone or by prompting them to share donation forms with carers and loved ones as well.

Your hard work doesn’t stop, so we’ll keep thinking of ways to engage your audience.

It may be a challenge for direct mail, but it’s not insurmountable. Because if the past few weeks have proved anything it’s that people are willing to change their behaviour – and that they still want to help each other.

Jo Young

Jo Young

Junior Copywriter We love having Jo in the copy team – she’s a fiercely intelligent and strikingly creative junior writer, and she’s already stunning us with her big ideas. Jo is passionate about the charity sector which, combined with her impressive knowledge of the education world, makes her the perfect creative for so many of our clients.