Charity DM – 5 Considerations to Ensure Success

Charity DM – 5 Considerations to Ensure Success
August 9, 2016 Nick Hames

For many charities direct mail remains the cornerstone of their appeal and donor retention strategies. Research conducted by Royal Mail’s MarketReach suggests the format “drove high levels of immediate response with 55% reporting they took direct action.” And not only does the medium illicit a direct and immediate response it seems the medium also drives word of mouth and awareness. The same research concluded “38% of people talking about their valued charity mail with others.” However alongside the proven benefits of getting it right, there are inherent risks with every direct mail campaign that must be managed. This checklist is a handy reminder of some important factors to consider when launching a charity direct mail campaign.


  1. Check Your Supplier’s Credentials

The creative, print and postage costs for a direct mail campaign can be significant. So it is important to ensue you are working with suppliers that can ensure your campaign generates a return. Any weak link in the supply chain can jeopardise the whole campaign performance. Ask for case studies and speak directly to other clients of your suppliers to make sure they have the experience delivering the type of campaigns you are planning. Alternatively find a single supplier such as The Production Hub who can manage the end to end process for you.

  1. Ensure Creative and Production are Working Together

Campaigns boasting the greatest returns on investment are able to combine a compelling creative concept with a cost effective mail pack. It is vital your creative team / agency designing the pack work alongside the company responsible for producing and mailing it. Postage alone can be a labyrinth of options based on weight, size, enclosing method and numerous other factors. For instance there can be up to a staggering 34% differential between Royal Mail’s high-sort and low-sort options. Getting creative and production working together early can save £000’s in the overall cost of the campaign.

  1. Personalise and Tailor the Message to Each Recipient

Some donors respond better to an emotional appeal over a factual one. You also probably don’t want to ask a donor that regularly donates £20 for £500, however those that have made irregular but larger contributions shouldn’t be asked for £20 in their appeal. Segmenting and versioning sections of the content in your appeal is an effective way to communicate a genuine and relevant message to each recipient. Make sure your suppliers are able to accommodate logic-based variations in addition to simple personalisation of a pack to maximise response.

  1. Cleaning the Data

It seems almost every week there is another public case of a donor receiving multiple copies of the same appeal, obscenities in name fields or charities mailing the deceased. When a pack is incorrectly sent or sent with errors it not only wastes money, but can cause significant damage to the brand. Agreeing a set of data cleaning processes with your suppliers and meticulously dip-sample the data before you run your first job.

  1. Get VAT Right

After postage, VAT can often be the largest line item cost for a direct mail campaign. If your budget is for a zero rated VAT campaign sourced through a single supplier then it pays to make sure you are handling the campaign correctly to qualify for zero VAT rating. Don’t take your suppliers word for it, speak to an independent VAT expert about your intentions with the campaign to make sure you are compliant.


The Production Hub is the trusted direct mail partner of charities such as RNIB, Blue Cross and Mencap. Clever DM is our commitment to direct mail excellence. Unlike many other print management companies The Production Hub manage everything from pack