We know that Canada Post’s recent announcement about the pending changes in home delivery service have lots of folks in our sector understandably concerned and confused.
Here’s a summary of what we know, and what our assessment of the impact will be. For a more detailed discussion, please do get in touch.
What we know:
- The 1/3 of Canadian households that still receive mail at their door will be converted to community mailbox delivery over the next five years.
- The price of Lettermail (ie. the price of a stamp) will go up dramatically from 63 cents to $1.00 when a single stamp is purchased. Customers who buy stamps in booklets and coils will pay 85 cents which means, of course, that it is wise to shop in bulk. Anything you do through a mailhouse should be at the 85 cent rate, as they buy in coils and booklets.
- However – and this is important – the price of Admail will only go up by the amount it was already scheduled to according to the 5-year plan released about 2 years ago, which is about 2-3 cents. This is important because the vast majority of direct mail which we do for clients goes out by Admail (either Addressed or Unaddressed). This means that the cost of your bulk direct mail drops will remain relatively unchanged but will increase yearly in January.
What do we think about it? :
- Well, we do have concerns about the extra burden on seniors who will now have to leave their homes in all kinds of Canadian weather to visit their mailboxes. But in terms of how this will impact your donor program …
Seeking to revitalize Oxfam's long-standing holiday campaign, HMA sent donors a piece of unbleached, ethically sourced cotton cloth in their mailing packs, asking them to fill it in with their message of hope to people living in poverty around the world. The response was fantastic. The campaign surpassed its target for donations, and Oxfam received hundreds of heartwarming messages of courage like you see here. Our intention is that it will give inspiration and comfort to Oxfam partners and clients, to know that people back in Canada are supporting them and thinking of them.
As Lynne blogged back in December, the response to the Oxfam Threads of Change campaign was fantastic. We recieved over 500 beautiful, handmade squares from Oxfam supporters all over the world. Now comes the fun part-putting it all together.
Almost all of the squares received were done on unbleached, ethically sourced cotton and had unfinished edges.
Many of the squares contained images or messages that ran right to the edge of the square, which necessitated having to ‘zigzag’ each square to another piece of cloth that allowed the squares to be sewn together without losing some of the images.
Fabric supplied by Oxfam from their partners in Malawi, Nigeria and other locations was then cut into 6” squares and each message square was sewn (zigzag stitch) onto the larger piece. In addition, to provide some visual highlights, some squares from the extra fabrics supplied by Oxfam were cut into 6” pieces to be included in the final assembly.
Once the squares were ready for assembly, each square was individually sewn, square by square, to make a row of 5 pieces as one row. Once 5 rows had been assembled, (and ironed along the seam to make the seam lie flat) 5 rows were joined together to make a block of 25 squares.
We thought this AFP blog post was so important it should be reposted on our blog. Thank you Andrew Watt for writing this.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Posted by AFP President and CEO Andrew Watt, FInstF
Impact vs. Overhead
Talk to almost any donor about what’s important when they give, and the answer will be impact, change and positive outcomes. Donors want to know that they’re making a difference—that with their chosen charity, they’re making real change.
It could be how many people are taught to read, or how many acres of wetlands are saved. There are any number of ways that charity’s outcomes can be shown.
You can be certain, though, that impact will NEVER be successfully demonstrated by fundraising and overhead cost ratios. Fundraising and administrative expenses are not a guide to effectiveness, performance and impact, yet they have been the key measures that supporters have been encouraged to use for years.
That’s why the recent open letter written by Guidestar, Charity Navigator and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance denouncing the “overhead ratio” as a valid indicator of nonprofit performance is so important. It’s one thing for charities and fundraisers to make the case against linking ratios and effectiveness. But we are not used to hearing these three organizations putting forward that same line, and even pro-actively decrying the “Overhead Myth.”
Seeking to revitalize Oxfam's long-standing holiday campaign, we sent donors a piece of cloth in their mailing packs, asking them to fill it in with their message of hope to people living in poverty around the world. Our message was that - like small pieces of cloth sewn together to make a warm, protective blanket - their donation along with those of many others could help Oxfam create great change.
The response has been fantastic.
The campaign has already surpassed its target for donations. And Oxfam have had hundreds of heartwarming messages of hope like you see here. What a lovely warm 'n fuzzy feeling to take into the holidays - and into next year's work.
Next steps: we'll be seeking volunteers and community groups (and a few HMA'ers who are good with their needles) to sew the pieces into a quilt. Then it will be sewn together with pieces of cloth from Oxfam projects around the world (hopefully complete with photos and videos of the people who sent them), truly becoming an international Thread of Change.
Watch the web, Facebook and Pinterest early next year for updates!
You have a dramatic, interesting, compelling story to tell about someone who has been helped by your non-profit organization. You are sure that this story will stir your donors’ emotions and boost your response rates and revenue.
So how should you tell the story? You have two options.
You can either (A) tell it from your point of view, or (B) you can let the person who experienced your organization tell their story in their own words. I recommend you go with Option B whenever possible, although this style of letter has its disadvantages.
In a first-person letter, the person that the story is about writes and signs the letter. For example, if you are a hospital, and you have an amazing story to tell about a patient who was dead on arrival but is alive today because of the intervention of your hospital staff, this type of story would be told in the patient’s own words.
The letter might begin like this: “On a sunny afternoon last September, I arrived at the Metro Health Hospital dead. I had no pulse, no blood pressure, and I wasn’t breathing. Not good, you’ll agree. But here I am a year later, telling you my story, and all because of the amazing staff of the hospital, who saved my life.” The letter would continue with the patient telling his story, and conclude by asking the reader to make a donation.
1. A story told in the first-person is invariably more dramatic and interesting than when the same story is related second-hand by a staff member. The writer of Amazing Grace wrote: “I once was blind, but now I see,” not, “John Newton once was blind but now he sees.”
I’m thrilled to announce that HMA is back to our winning ways!
We just received the results of the 2012 Commuter Challenge, and HMA placed in the Top Five in our business category (1-25 employees).
With 100% staff participation, our team collectively managed to travel 1,258 km sustainably (on bikes, foot, transit) – avoiding a whopping 235 kg of C02.
As an additional bonus we also burned 6,408 calories.
Meaning that it’s high time to grab some chocolate and celebrate!
When the campaigns you develop are “successful,” how much incentive do you have to aim for greater success?
For example, let’s say your organization mails out an acquisition that has consistently achieved around a 2% response rate. You may be unwilling to mess around with it too much since it's successful enough – especially now that response rates to acquisition mailings are declining. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
But, what if making a change might increase that response rate by even .5%? If you are mailing out 50,000 pieces, that's 250 new donors – donors who will feed into your monthly donor program, planned giving, and even major gifts. That's 250 new donors from every mailing that you are not reaching because you are "successful" in your acquisition mailing.
In the for-profit world, current success leads to greater amounts of testing – if we're getting 2% now, why aren't we getting 4%? If we're getting 4%, shouldn't we be getting 8%? Every success leads to more efforts to reach a greater success. But non-profits play it safe.
And we run the risk of letting our current success lead to future failure.
In how many areas of your work (and life, for that matter) are you playing it safe and letting your own success hold you back from even greater success?
One particularly successful campaign we developed was an email campaign that augmented their year-end mailing.
We wrote and sent 5 emails – 2 as follow-ups to the mailing and 3 to the rest of Sea Shepherd's email list. This was the first time Sea Shepherd had done a concerted and integrated year-end campaign.
The results were fantastic: $100,000 raised from the emails alone.
See examples of the emails and some more details on the case study page.
While you're there, take a look at some of our other work that has increased our clients' net revenue.