4 Ways to Mail to Christian Donors

6 Mar

Originally Published in Inside Direct Mail Magazine
October 1, 2008
by Britt Brouse

Mailing to Christian donors who already give to religious or humanitarian causes could add valuable long-term supporters or prospects to your direct mail list. “Religious donors are the most faithful donors out there; their long-term value is much greater than those that give to other organizations,” says John Kehoe, founder and president of Trinity Direct, a list brokerage and management company based in Butler, N.J.

“Going to church every week and assuming generosity as one of their core values make them standout donors … You don’t have to convince them to be generous – you can presume that, of course, they value generosity,” explains Charles Fraga, president of Direct Development, a full-service direct marketing firm with offices in Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C.

While they may be pinched for cash like nearly everyone else, religious donors will still give loyally to a cause. “They’re very faithful to their organization. The religious donor will sacrifice to give that extra dollar,” Kehoe asserts. “Overall, giving is down during tough economic times, but it may not be down because of the number of gifts-it could be down because of the average gift. “They’re still giving because they still want to be able to sleep at night. But they have to spend more money to fill up their car full of gas, and there’s only so much money,” Fraga says.

Apply these four expert ideas below to your direct mail campaigns to reach these motivated and loyal donors:

1. Mail Around Holy Days
Fraga says his clients time their mailings to religious donors around religious holidays including Christmas, Easter, feasts and All Souls Day. “Right after Easter, when people are feeling really good about life, it’s springtime, the tulips are in bloom and the sun’s starting to come out more; it’s just a more happy, positive time for people to get their checkbooks out,” Fraga says. Kehoe notes that mailings sent near feast days and All Souls Day tend to include religious card freemiums. “It’s very hard to find religious cards in stores now, so a lot of people are using the cards they get in the mail,” he explains. Tax advantages also motivate religious donors just as much as general humanitarian donors, so Fraga advises a year-end campaign to capture those additionally motivated by tax breaks.

2. Compel With Emotional Appeals
In order to convert religious donors to your appeal, you need to establish what Fraga describes as a compelling emotional need. “In a matter of seconds, someone is not only going to recognize the need, but be motivated to actually read more about it and/or do something about it,” Fraga illustrates. Some emotional triggers that motivate religious donors, according to Kehoe and Fraga, are guilt, pity, fear, emergency needs, family values and a sense of legacy. “Oftentimes, front-end premiums are used in direct mail, and part of what’s going on there is guilt. You’ve just received something for free and think, ‘I’d better give them something at least,'” Fraga says.

3. Include Religious Imagery and Scripture
To make your mailer a keeper in the Christian donor’s home, Fraga advises including a scripture quote when appropriate. “It’s harder to throw a piece of paper away that has a scripture quote that you respect on it, and I think that’s an interesting thing that can be used to the advantage of Christian nonprofits,” Fraga says. He adds that combining short quotes with images works well, as do images of suffering people. Research all of the images you use ahead of time because not all religious imagery will resonate with different sects of Christianity. “Each one has it’s own unique way of looking at things,” explains Kehoe, who gives the example of a rosary image that would only be appropriate for Catholics.

4. Use Response-based Lists
When targeting religious donors, both Kehoe and Fraga agree that response lists are well worth an extra expense over compiled lists because the latter kind of lists use other information to infer religious denomination, which can be inaccurate. “Obviously response files that are specific to that religious group are the best,” Kehoe stresses. He recommends using Catholic publication lists like Magnificat or The Word Among Us, while Fraga values responses to surveys that indicate religious affiliation.

Again, pay attention to the variations in Christian beliefs. “You have to look at the list and the original source to find out if it’s a match for your organization. Ave Maria School of Law and Liberty University are two different lists. Both would be considered very conservative groups, but one is Catholic and one is Born Again Christian – and that’s a big difference,” Kehoe concludes.

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