Direct Mail Fundraising

Key No. 6: Well executed production 
All the careful targeting and captivating creative treatment in the world is worth nothing if the printing and mailing go wrong. Well executed production is as critical to successful direct mail fundraising as are all the other elements discussed so far in this document.

At the same time, it needs to be said that managing direct mail production is a highly expert function and takes a very long time to learn. A simple mistake by an innocent beginner can wreck months of work by other people involved in planning and executing a mailing.

For this reason, of all the elements of direct mail fundraising, production is the one area that is undoubtedly better to outsource by appointing a good, specialist direct mail fundraising company to handle it.

Whether this part of the campaign is outsourced or not, the planning and management steps are the same. These are:

1. Specify the elements of the mailing pack in printing terms. An example for the simple fundraising mailing might be:

Outer envelope – White, Outsize DL, plain face or single window one colour printing on front and reverse.

Reply envelope – White DL, plain face, one colour printing front

Letter – White, A4, 90 gsm bond paper, two colour printing on front, one colour on reverse, laser personalizing on front

Reply form – One third A4, 90 gsm bond paper, two colour printing both sides, laser personalizing on front

Leaflet – A4 folded to one third A4, 90 gsm bond paper, two colour printing both sides

2. Specify the mailing quantity and mailing date.

3. Specify the list selections to be used, whether these are for ‘cold’ mailings or ‘warm.’

4. Ensure all the items in the mailing are coded to identify them as ‘belonging’ to that mailing campaign.

5. Allocate response codes to the reply form to identify which list selection the reply has come from. These codes are usually alpha-numeric, the alpha elements identifying the mailing campaign and the numeric elements identifying the list selection.

6. Set up a credit account with the Royal Mail so that you don’t have to pay postage up front. This can take several weeks, so allow for this in your planning.

7. Set up a FREEPOST account with the Royal Mail so that all reply envelopes can be marked ‘FREEPOST’, so the donor doesn’t have to look for a stamp. This usually takes 2-3 weeks, so allow for this in your planning.

8. Sign a contract with the supplier/s involved. This is strongly recommended by the Institute of Fundraising.

9. Sign a data processor agreement with the company which will do the data processing. This is required under the Data Protection Act.

10. Send artwork of your mailing pack to the printer or production house. Or use the production house’s own artwork facility.

11. The printer or direct mail production company will send print proofs for you to sign off, followed by what are called ‘live laser proofs’ also to be signed off. The latter are proofs of the printed stationery items with laser personalizing inserted.

12. Insist on having at least 100 samples of the mailing pack delivered to you by courier immediately the mailing is ready to send so you can check everything one last time.

13.Sit back and wait for a huge response!