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Part 2 – The REAL Gifts in the Fundraising Industry

By Ben Harris, President, Production Solutions

Any company serving the direct marketing industry, especially those serving non-profits, should be universally referred to as ESSENTIAL Partners.

We must acknowledge and adopt this Essential Partners terminology to move away from terms like vendor, supplier, printer, mailer, commingler, trucker, etc. Research has proven that changing the way we speak to others (and ourselves) through making better word choices can impact our optimism and improve the willingness of others to hear what we are saying.

These Essential Partners’ resilience, ingenuity, and courage exhibited over the past 800+ days was the reason most, if not all, organizations had some of their best years of fundraising in the past two decades. [Read more]

Part 1 – The REAL Gifts in the Fundraising Industry

By Ben Harris, President, Production Solutions

The global pandemic has been plodding along in the USA for over 800 days, and the most jarring statistics to me are the millions of lives lost, the millions of jobs lost or resigned, and the many millions with increased symptoms of depression or burnout. The pandemic, for many of us, has created this chronic state of powerlessness or languishing – which directly impacts our psychology and effectiveness. [Read more]



Sip, Socialize, and Speed-Network with YDMAW

Being a young professional in direct marketing can prove challenging when you’re new to the industry. Everyone is seemingly already an expert and finding others in the same boat is daunting in a room full of strangers. This has always been a challenge, but that journey became even more difficult after the 2020 COVID outbreak when many companies went fully remote.  While it is important for us to safely start to mingle, build new relationships, and re-establish old connections, we are still finding ourselves in a position where that’s much easier said than done.

For everyone who has felt or continues to feel this way—you are not alone! YDMAW is taking these challenges head-on by creating a young professionals space where we can meet others our own age with diverse experiences and similar ambitions. [read more]

In December 2021, the DMAW community came together in person for the first time in almost two years to award the venerable Hall of Leaders Award, which this year went to Roger Hiyama, Executive Vice President, Solutions & Innovations of Wiland. 

To be recognized, the nominees for the Hall of Leaders award are voted on by previous winners and approved by the DMAW Board, making it truly a peer recognition award. There are four specific criteria for the Award: [read more]

PART II -  Using Premiums to Retain Donors

Ok, so you can get more donors at a nice investment using premiums.  You can even get economies of scale on production, lowering cost per piece because you can find more names to mail.  But now you have a lot of donors who aren’t committed, won’t renew, churn and burn – or so the critics say.  The numbers say something different.

Including premiums strategically in a house file or renewal schedule – starting with repeating your acquisition package at least once or twice a year to those donors – will also increase your response rates.  Improved response rates will increase retention rates.  [read more]

Mail Plans – Are They Really Just for Direct Mail and Do I Really Need One?

July 19, 2019

No and Yes, according to Jessica Harrington of the Harrington Agency during her recent DMAW webinar. She is also a planner at heart as the detailed webinar revealed. When you take a trip, a GPS-enabled device is a must, but you might also print or download a map. In other words, you bring tools to…

How to Prioritize and Maximize Your Testing

June 19, 2019

Direct marketers love testing. It’s how we establish causality and know with certainty that results can be repeated across campaigns. It’s how we mitigate risk across our programs before rolling out with new ideas. It’s how we gain insights about donor and customer behavior that allow us to build effective communication strategies that yield results.…

Digital Day 2019: Expecting the Unexpected

June 12, 2019

Going into DMAW’s Digital Day for the second year in a row, I knew I’d be leaving with a wealth of new knowledge in the digital space, but little did I know that the lessons learned would be both inside and outside of the sessions. Digital Day taught me more than just the latest digital…

The Carrier’s Curse: Questioning, Testing, and Why Everything Plain Is Exciting Again

May 31, 2019

Raise your hand if you’ve been here: you’re mailing a package with a heartwarming case for support, copy that hits all your marks in two pages or less, all in a gorgeous, full bleed, four-color carrier. The package is great, the message is strong, and your lists are ready to go. You’re so proud of…

DM 201: Stop Getting Comfortable and Start Innovating

April 24, 2019

DM 201 is an intermediate-level course that’s perfect for anyone who already has some direct marketing experience under their belt—whether at an agency, nonprofit, list broker, production company, or analytics firm—and wants to go beyond the basics. Somewhere between being a total newbie and seasoned vet things start to fall into place. We get comfortable…

Middle donors and the White House

April 5, 2019

Are your middle donors suffering from middle child syndrome? Do they feel excluded, ignored, overshadowed by the over-indulged major donors and the high volume, attention-stealing low dollar donors?  Organizations are starting to shine the spotlight on middle donors, and rightly so.  The reality is middle donors account for less than 2% of all donors in…

Not just for newbies! – What I learned at DM 101

March 22, 2019

Normally I wouldn’t have signed up for this particular seminar. After all, I’ve been in the industry for more than “just a few” years . . . although I’ll never admit to exactly HOW many years. Let’s just say I started back in the old days – before email, before online marketing, before much of…

Reaching donors when you don’t have an “Aunt Bertha”

February 4, 2019

I had the pleasure of attending the DMAW Annual Meeting and hearing from keynote speaker Nancy Harhut about how to hack the brains of donors, members, and other humans. It was fascinating! Nancy shared a story about where her interest in fundraising began – at age eight when, incentivized by a banana-seat bike prize, she…

A mail donor and a digital donor walked into a bar…

November 28, 2018

If your first reaction to the title above is, “I don’t get it, is that a joke?”, then you likely were not among fortunate, dedicated marketers, who braved the region’s first snow dusting of the season to attend this month’s DMAW Lunch and Learn, “Digital First: Why Translating DM Content Just Won’t Cut It!” While…

Key Takeaways – National Association of Charitable Gift Planners 2018 Conference

November 8, 2018

Last month, I attended the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners Conference in Las Vegas. This is the premier national gift planning conference, with three days packed with presentations on all aspects of planned giving. I’ve been happy to see an increasing number of panels and discussions focused on marketing – the main driver for…