First of all, in my book, if Lynne Wester
says something, it must be true. She IS that good.
Still, with all due respect and enduring admiration....
I've come to a very different conclusion. Here's why....
Meet the Domain Group.
The Domain Group was this amazing Seattle-based direct-mail fundraising agency that rose to prominence during the 1990s. By 2005 it had grown to a staff of 85. Then a competitor bought it out. Top talent scattered. Some, like Jeff Brooks
and Bob Ball
, went to work for growth-hungry national firms. Other alums started new agencies: Steven Screen
and Domain co-founder Richard Perry
, for instance.
The relevance? Way back in 1999, I stumbled into a presentation by the Domain Group, given at the AFP (then NSFRE) international conference in Miami.
During that miraculous, career-changing-for-me presentation, the Domain Group revealed something truly astonishing to the audience....>> Brace yourself.
Some of the Domain Group's clients were actually making MORE in donations via print newsletters
than via their direct mail appeals.>> OK, now you can breathe again.
Through rigorous testing, the white witches and wizards at the Domain Group had figured out the EXACT formula for lucrative print donor newsletters.
It sounded preposterous. Counter-intuitive. "You're joking, right!?!?"
Nope. Absolutely true. Domain had the data. Stunned, I packed away my presumptions, my assumptions, my country-mouse da-dumptions ... and embraced Domain's methods.
I raced back from Miami with the Domain Formula in hand and found a client willing to test the idea. (Thank you forever, Nisia!)
We tried it with a small, inner-city Boys & Girls Club. Held our breath. Lo and behold ... the Domain formula worked!!! We made good money with each and every newsletter mailing. This was our modest envelope....
Eventually I even wrote a book
about donor newsletters ... to spread the word; in its 2nd edition, that book
now talks about digital newsletters as well as print. But nothing much has changed: my book
still celebrates Domain's breakthrough formula. Domain's presentation in Miami was the pebble. I was a willing pond.
The Domain Formula has proven profitable to many charities in the years since. I've heard success tales from fundraisers in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. They've all taken the plunge ... and experimented successfully with the Domain Formula. The results they've seen: stronger immediate giving ... better donor retention down the line ... and more response in the bequest realm.
And all those newsletters include a reply device.
------Someone who took the Domain Formula and made it her own.
Michelle Brinson is the genius editor behind the Heart of the Mission
's printed newsletter. The cover of her May 2016 issue appears at the top of this article.Here's the happy bottom line:
every $1 she spends on her newsletter generates almost $7 in added giving!!!!! Her monthly newsletter alone hauls in more than $2 million annually in extra giving ... put to excellent use helping Nashville's homeless stabilize battered lives.
BUT ... for want of an envelope, that $2 million in badly needed help would go uncollected.
That's why I respectfully disagree with the "no envelope" policy mentioned in Lorraine's letter.
Michelle has generously shared some of the other elements in her monthly newsletter mailing.
The outbound envelope:
The reply device:
Twelve months later, Angel reviewed the results.