Some donors don’t respond to the internet, and others simply prefer a good, old fashioned letter. Many people who make major donations are older and less technologically savvy than the young people who haven’t yet struck their fortunes and aren’t inclined to give. An older generation of donors (and many young donors) still reads through their snail mail, and direct mail is how to reach them.
In fact organizations still raise a substantial percentage of their overall funds (often 60-80%) through direct mail.
Letters, postcards, paper inserts, newsletters, and return envelopes are your options for thanking donors and making both annual and major gift appeals. Each type of direct mail piece has its place in the matching gift donation cycle, and they’ll all help you to reach that vital segment of donors who either don’t use / don’t frequent email or respond to direct mail at a much higher rate.
Direct mail might lack the speed of email, but different donors respond to different marketing techniques. Paper letters help you reach the folks who don’t rely on technology for all of their information.
Paper letters highlighting matching gifts come in two varieties:
- Solicitation letters
- Thank you notes
Use letters to remind donors to check if their employers offer matching gifts. The wording shouldn’t read like a sale, so no, “Act now! Match your gift!” You want people to know that, by applying for a matching gift, they’re doing a great service to your nonprofit.
Sample Matching Gift Letter Text (feel free to use them)
- Many employers offer matching gift programs that could double or even triple your contribution. We invite you to seek out matching gifts, so that [name of your organization] can continue to [list some awesome things that you do for the community].
- Many corporations offer programs that match employee donations to [insert your organization’s name]. The tax deductible portion of your membership contribution is often eligible to be matched as well.
- Visit [insert the name of your matching gift page on your website] or visit https://doublethedonation.com/YourOrg to find out if your company will match your donation.
Write to your donors like they’re human beings and share personal stories to get them invested and wanting to go the extra mile to seek out matching gifts. Then include one of the above lines, or a quip of your own, as a call to action.
Solicitation letters won’t work for everyone. Lapsed donors and non-donors tend not to respond to direct mail specifically highlighting employee matching gifts. Active donors are who you want to solicit, as they’ve either made or will make a recent donation and should welcome the opportunity to double their gift. Postage prices can add up, so don’t send letters out to any old donor.
Thank You Letters
When you receive a matching gift, say thank you. Even if you’re sending emails, a paper thank you is a way to get a bit more intimate in order to show how much you appreciate the additional funds. Also, as previously mentioned, many donors don’t check email, and you want to make sure that they’re thanked. Physical letters might take longer to arrive, but they’ll ensure that your gratefulness is received.
“Hey, so, while you’re in Mali, could you send me a postcard?” People love postcards, and they especially enjoy handwritten notes. Something about knowing that a real person cared enough to write the note resonates with the heartstrings. You want to tug at the heartstrings.
And they’re a perfect way to promote matching gifts through both:
- Solicitation postcards
- Thank you postcards
Postcards can be an especially effective way to encourage donors to submit matching gifts. Here’s an example matching gift postcard that MCR, a leading full-service print and mailing provider, created for Florida Institute of Technology:
Front Side of Florida Institute of Technology’s Matching Gift Postcard
Back Side of Florida Institute of Technology’s Matching Gift Postcard
The postcard does a lot of good things:
- Explains what matching gifts are
- Explains their financial impact
- Reminds donors to submit their matching gifts
- Provides a link to where donors can access additional matching gift information
- Provides a contact at the nonprofit to field donors’ questions
If your organization is interested in sending out postcards to donors then we recommend evaluating the following approaches:
- Send a matching gift postcard to all recent donors
- Send a matching gift postcard to donors who gave above a certain amount
- Send a matching gift postcard to donors who you know work for a matching gift company
- Send a matching gift postcard to donors who submitted a matching gift on past donations but haven’t yet for their most recent donations
Thank You Postcards
Odds are that you receive matching gift checks several months after the original donations. As with letters, postcards are a way to notify your donors that the matching contributions were received.
Thanking donors is not only the right thing to do, but it also instills a positive impression in donors’ minds, so they’ll be more likely to make future contributions with matching gifts.
Here’s a thank you postcard from the University of Michigan:
Sample Matching Gift Postcard sent by the University of Michigan (Front Side)
Sample Matching Gift Postcard sent by the University of Michigan (Back Side)
The front is a play on the traditional Michigan slogan of, “Hail to the victors.” The alteration is smart, attention grabbing, and informs the reader what the opposite side of the card will discuss.
Michigan uses clean, white text, and you want a card that’s both easy to read and eye-appealing. Stay true to your brand’s color scheme, as Michigan does, and include graphics where they fit.
The backside of this postcard thanks the donor for taking the time to submit a matching gift.
When you’re as large as the University of Michigan, chances are that you’re sending this postcard out to more people than hand cramps that you care to endure. Printed postcards are fine, and Michigan presents a nice example, but if you want that personal touch then pick up a pen and scribble a quick message. Even just signing at the bottom can show an extra level of dedication that donors will respond to.
If you don’t want to edit all of your marketing materials so that they mention matching gifts or if you want to call added attention to such programs then paper inserts may be the offline marketing technique for you (it’s like your eHarmony match for matching gift marketing). Paper inserts are small slips of paper included in donor mailings that call special attention to matching gifts.
A paper insert from the National Kidney Foundation
That’s all a paper insert needs to be: Limited text that gets straight to the point. The graphics here are nice and the choices of both the font sizes and the bold text emphasize the brief message. You can easily tell what this paper insert is talking about and who it’s from. A nice addition is the invitation to visit their website at the provided link.
A more detailed paper insert from the Atlanta Botanical Garden
This insert does a great job of taking advantage of available space to dig into the nuances of matching gifts. The color scheme is eye-catching and the font is easy to read. The bigger, white font at the top is a great call-to-attention, with a more subtle, bold call to attention towards the bottom of the page. This is how you want to incorporate matching gifts into a paper insert. Give them their own space and grab the reader’s attention.
If you have a dedicated matching gift page either on your own website or hosted on our website then we encourage you to include a link to that page directly on the insert.
Paper inserts come in a variety of forms. Sometimes they’re as simple as little slips of paper, but sometimes they’re Post-it notes stuck onto other materials in the mailing, or you could get creative and turn your paper insert into a bookmark. A great way to save money is to print paper inserts onto the backs of other mailing materials.
This marketing medium is an opportunity to write content that goes in-depth into the details of matching gifts, as you have more room to articulate both why matching gifts are important and their specific benefits to your nonprofit. Newsletters present additional space, so you can give donors more information in an attempt to bring them closer to your nonprofit in a way that makes them feel more in touch with and thus more included in your community.
Chances are that you have an online newsletter, but have you noticed that some people still prefer the print newspaper to the digital edition? Some folks prefer printed materials, whether due to reading issues or any number of problems. The bulk group who will appreciate direct mail newsletters is older donors who do not stay up to date with email. By sending out a physical newsletter you have a better chance of reaching donors who you would otherwise miss.
Your newsletter might be one page or several pages. In either case, you need quality content. To get started, here are two potential articles that can raise awareness for matching gifts:
- [Your Organization’s Name] raises [Amount of money raised from matching gifts] from Matching Gifts and [What your organization did with the money] — Use this article to detail how matching gifts provide additional resources that create opportunities that would otherwise not be possible. Make the story personal and relatable, so donors realize the importance of taking a mere five minutes to submit a matching gift request.
- Corporate Employee Matching Gift Programs: What Are They and How Do They Benefit [Your Organization’s Name]? — Inform donors about matching gift basics, from what matching gifts are to how they benefit your organization to how easy it is to submit a matching gift request. Sometimes people just need to know that such programs exist.
Newsletters are great to mail out in paper form, but, with the cost of postage, it might serve you best to send out a bulk of materials in a single letter. Other tangible materials that you can send along with your newsletter include all of the above direct mail items.
If your nonprofit is like many organizations then you’re using direct mail to solicit donations. Moreover, you’re probably including a pre-printed return envelope to make it easy for donors to mail in their donations.
The return envelope is a prime spot to remind donors to check if their employers will match their donations.
In case you can’t read the text on the above graphic, it says:
Thanks for donating!
Don’t forget to see if your company offers a matching gift program.
Visit [insert your Double the Donation matching gift URL or a link to your organization’s matching gift page] to access your company’s matching gift form, guidelines, and instructions.
A lot of the time, scoring matching gifts is about increasing awareness. Direct mail offers a bevy of ways to connect to donors. Many donors respond better to paper mail than email, and, from letters to postcards to newsletters, you have all the options you need to raise more doubled donations than ever.