Why the “New Normal” Isn’t As Different As You Think

The world has certainly changed in the past few weeks, hasn’t it? Social distancing means that shaking hands, throwing a big high five, and hugging a friend have gone from gestures that express friendship and collegiality to something we must all avoid. Although it’s being called the “new normal”, it really isn’t normal at all. People are meant to interact and share thoughts and ideas with one another.

With that vital part of our humanity suppressed, it’s important to connect now more than ever. Direct mail can serve as an incredible way to build and enhance connection with your donors.

Stay the course in terms of your direct mail strategy and resist the urge to have a knee-jerk reaction to the turbulence. Direct mail will remain a bedrock fundraising channel. Here are some ideas you can leverage to adjust and evolve to the current circumstances.

Let’s start with the obvious: The world is not the same for any of us, so it’s 100% necessary to change your messaging to acknowledge this unprecedented moment in time. In turn, it’s more important than ever to communicate how critical your mission is during a time of crisis.

That’s why it’s important to conduct a thorough review of your existing copy – especially for recurring mailings. Make sure your copy is neither tone-deaf nor too specific as the situation changes rapidly from day to day. Make sure your program is set up to allow for quick changes to copy and suppressions as the situation continues to evolve. You need this level of agility. 

While social distancing is the worldwide protocol, it’s a great time to blend new communication tools into your program mix. If you have not done so already, be sure to include the USPS Informed DeliveryⓇ to your key mailings. Urgent grams and buckslips added to existing campaigns are great ways to reach your donors quickly. Consider an appeal that offers the option of a donor-advised fund. Include more lapsed donors with messaging specific to the even bigger need for your mission these days. Times like these ultimately spur innovation, so now is the time to try new ideas. 

It’s recommended by most industry experts to maintain your existing direct mail strategy. Direct mail is still the most resilient and reliable source of revenue for most nonprofit organizations, after all. A word of caution:  It can take years for programs to recover from major strategy changes. And significant reductions in mail quantity will only compound the effects for years to come.

In challenging times like these, it is important to keep a continuous line of communication filled with messages of support and hope. Donors need you as much as you need them. Showcase all the good that is still out in the world, especially where your mission is focused. Reciprocal contributions will come back!

By:  Alex Newell, Production Solutions