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Why Direct Mail? It Stimulates The Brain.

Why Direct Mail? It Stimulates The Brain.

A basic marketing tenet is that you should always place your message where your audience will receive it. So it makes intuitive sense that the organizations should put their appeals on social media, because that’s where everyone seems to spend their time nowadays, especially millennials. But delivering a message is about more than just ensuring your audience comes across it—the medium does matter. Highly advanced brain science illustrates that people respond differently to the same message send in different formats.

Direct Mail Stimulates Brain | Grassroot Communication

Researchers at the center for the Neural Decision Making at Temple University’s Fox School of Business found that the participants spent more time with the physical advertisements showed more desire for the product seen in print and were more stimulated by physical ads than by their digital counterparts. What does this mean for nonprofit communications directors? It means that your supporters feel a greater emotional reaction to print communication, raising the perceived value of what is being advertised. A higher-value message is more likely to convert a prospect into a supporter. For your organization’s next capital campaign, think targeted direct mail.


Why Direct Mail?

Why Direct Mail? Because it grabs and hold attention!

The key to effective engagement is relevance. Crafting a piece of communication that resonates with your recipient is essential to removing the spam-like element associated with many solicitations – especially those sent via email and social media.

High-quality direct mail that is properly targeted to the right audience with the right message is highly effective in persuading your recipient to take action. It provides the opportunity to put your message in your recipient’s hands—a message that, as part of a multi-channel, grass-roots effort, they will be exposed to multiple times.

Social media is effective for quick updates and reminders, but it should not be relied upon for persuasive campaigns that require attention. The quick-glance, instant-gratification mindset of the online user is simply not conducive to the sort of campaign messages that convert prospects into members and donors.

Why Direct Mail

First Look At Gen Z

What Does Your Future Member or Donor Look Like? An Early Look At Generation Z

Successful membership and donor-supported organizations usually depend on a variety of supporters. Various generations, education levels, and even political persuasions usually are found within an association’s membership, and may even find common ground on many causes–think Red Cross or United Way.

With this in mind, it’s never too early to pay attention to what the future holds. New research from the Pew Research Center offers an early, and very detailed look at so-called Generation Z.

For starters, who is in Generation Z, or Gen Z? Pew defines them as people born from 1997 onward. With the oldest turning 22 this year, there are few Gen Zers that are making donations or joining membership organizations. That said, there are plenty of them who are through high school and even college, or have started professional careers. They are politically engaged and are paying attention to social issues.

Grassroot Communication | Gen Z

In short, they matter.
What do they think?

In short, Gen Z leans more progressive politically, even among those that identify as Republicans. They believe government should do more to help people, not less–again, even among those that identify themselves as being more conservative.

Gen Zers also believe that increased racial and ethnic diversity is good for the U.S. overall, with about six in 10 holding this viewpoint. This ratio is about even with Millennials (born 1981-1996), but higher than Generation X (1965-1980) and previous generations.

The current generation is also the most likely to agree that same-sex marriage and inter-racial marriage are positives for society. Millennials are a close second, and then the disapproval gap grows starting with Generation X.

Members of Gen Z are also the most open-minded on gender identification. One out of three Gen Zers surveyed by Pew say they know at least one person who identifies using a gender-neutral pronoun. Six in 10 Gen Zers believe online forms or other methods of recording personal information should have gender-related options beyond “man” and “woman.”

The Pew survey includes more information and is worth examining.

The primary takeaways? Gen Zers are, in general, very similar to Millennials–no surprise, considering they are back-to-back generations. But the new generation is broadening its views in several key areas–notably politics, where they appear to be more progressive than their predecessors (again, even among those that identify themselves as conservative), and they are clearly engaged on the expanding discussion related to gender identification.

Keeping an eye on your future donors and members is always a smart move. It may be too early to make wholesale changes based on Gen Z’s tendencies, but it’s never too early to be engaged with your future stakeholders.


Direct Mail Fundraising, Membership and Advocacy Campaigns | 2019 Postal Rates

Grass Root Communication specializes in designing and executing highly targeted data driven direct mail Fundraising, Membership and Advocacy campaigns. We handle the entire campaign build from the data analytics to the appeal letter writing, to production, mailing and tracking of campaigns- all under one roof.
2019 Postal Rates | Grassroot Communication
• Acquisition packages (for attracting new Donors/members/constituents)
• Fundraising Appeals (to raise revenue from both small and medium sized donors/supporters)
• On Boarding packages (for welcoming and engaging brand new donors/members/constituents)
• Win Back campaigns (for getting back lapsed donors/members/constituents)
• Social/Political Advocacy campaigns (designed to turn voter sentiment towards social issues.).
• Educational/Informational Campaigns (to help your members and constituents keep up with professional and industry wide trends)


Your data holds the keys to your membership-campaign strategies. GRC MemberTrends analyzes your data and reveals immediately actionable strategies that you can use to drive renewals, new-member campaigns, and other efforts aimed at strengthening your organization. And you won’t have to break your budget in the process. Using GRC MemberTrends, you will learn:

  • Per-member revenue insights that help identify upgrade and ancillary-sales opportunities
  • Common attributes that can be used to target new members
  • Member-acquisition and retention costs
  • Members’ lifetime values and attrition rates
  • Snapshot of members by your organization’s categories
  • Historical growth trends and future growth projections
  • And much more.



Each GRC MemberTrends report is delivered with both in-depth analysis and easy-to-digest charts and graphics that summarize the major takeaways. They also include recommended action plans based on the specific results generated from your data. This sample report gives you an idea of what to expect, but remember–each GRC Member Trends report is customized based on results generated from your data.

Ready to gain new, actionable insight from your data? Contact us today






Membership Data: A Little At A Time Goes A Long Way

These days, developing your membership-building strategies around data is paramount. Knowing who your members are, how they interact with your organization and its offerings, and why they stay (and go) is key to developing effective and cost-efficient campaigns.

Before you launch a successful campaign, however, you must have solid data. Collecting the right data–and in ways that do not put barriers in front of members or prospective members–is where the entire process starts.

By the time a prospect becomes a member, you probably have at least some information about her. She subscribed to an e-mail list or is on a prospects-campaign list. This is your foundation–a solid start. The goal from here should be to build on it carefully and consistently as you interact with her.

The first major opportunity to collect data is during the sign-up process, when your prospective member is making the transition to active member. It’s the ideal time to grab most of the data you need, right?

Not so fast.

Your new member is excited to be joining your community, and something you offer–likely a few things–is what pulled her over the line. One thing you can bet on: the sign-up process is not one of them. Sign-up and on-boarding should be as painless as possible. This is the time to stoke that enthusiasm by fast-tracking the process, so she gets to what she wants, as quickly as possible.

Once your new member is in, she should be experiencing a different level of engagement. This is an ideal time to build on your data foundation. Among the tactics we’ve seen work: ask simple questions in email newsletters and ask the members to respond directly, or by updating a profile. For example, you can customize the question using your member’s profile information, such as her employer’s name. Cross-reference this information with something relevant about the member’s employer–such as the number of employees it has–and you can ask, “We have that your company has X-XX employees. Is this still correct?” An accompanying link takes her to her profile, and that helps update your database. Similar questions can be linked to different fields in the member profile. Before long, you have a robust data set.

Some other ideas to consider: website pop-ups, self-service member directories, and, of course, the time-tested survey. Take care to not overwhelm your members with too many queries to complete these, however. Pop-ups should not be on every website page, and preferably not the home page. Again, think about why people are visiting that page of your site. Odds are experienced members have bookmarked internal pages and are going directly to them, while prospects are starting at your virtual front-door.

As for survey frequencies, annual member survey, or perhaps two shorter surveys spread out every six months, is not too much to ask.

Don’t forget about the renewal process, too. This is an ideal time to have your members confirm basic details.

Regardless of which tactics you use, remember to remind the members how collecting (and verifying) data will help their membership experience. Nobody likes to input data, but everyone will welcome the outcome: a more valuable experience for them, and a better association overall.

The takeaway: Yes, collecting data from your members is the foundation of a successful, sustainable membership-development plan. But it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Every department thinks its data is what moves the needle. Establish a consensus among internal stakeholders about what needs collecting as well as a steady plan to get it done. Your members will welcome the more subtle approach, and you’ll still get what you need to succeed.

Looking To Attract New Members? Show Them What They’re Missing

In most associations, one of the perks of membership is access to a steady stream of high-quality, informative content. From magazines to videos, creating useful content for members–be it to educate, inform, or, in some cases, even entertain–is a time-tested way to add value and develop a sense of indispensability about your offering.

But if members are the only ones that ever see your members-only content, consider altering your strategy.

Some of the most effective membership-marketing campaigns leverage the very content associations use to help keep members around. The key, of course, is using just enough to entice prospective members but still protecting the majority of the good stuff for those that already pay for it. As a bonus, you can use these strategies to augment your data-collection efforts.

Here are several strategies we’ve helped put in place that balance attracting new members with keeping most content under wraps, while providing some valuable data insights.

Custom email campaigns. Odds are, your new-member-outreach efforts include sending emails to prospects. Instead of simply telling them about the benefits of your association, show them–using some content. Provide links to one or two useful articles you’ve published. Your CRM system should be able to track click-thrus, so you can get an idea of what is resonating. Set up a campaign that swaps in new content with some frequency, but not too often–once every 2-3 months, say. This keeps it fresh for prospects, while safeguarding the amount of free content being made available.

Landing pages. Setting up a landing page with a simple data-collection form–name, email address, and perhaps one relevant piece of information germane to your association’s membership types–is an ideal way to let non-members read content. Put an article, white paper, or perhaps some presentations from a recent conference you held behind the landing page, and promote the effort through existing channels–e-mail, social media, etc.

“Freemium” website content. If you publish regularly to a news or blog section, consider setting up some of your content so that anyone can read it, so long as a name and email address is provided. This approach allows your website to work its search-engine magic naturally, while both supporting your membership-development and data-gathering strategies. News websites use the strategy often to turn browsers into subscribers; associations can follow the same path.

Webinars | Grassroot Communication

Webinars. One of the more popular and effective ways to inform and interact with members is via webinars. They’re used as both lead-generation tools and members-only educational benefits. If your association does the latter, consider opening one up to non-members. We recommend giving access to a recorded version, which helps keep the webinar’s main target–your members–feeling like they received the exclusive benefit of participating in the live version. If you have the resources, consider a special webinar that targets prospective members. Pick a topic that you know resonates with members, but perhaps is covered elsewhere via their members-only content. Then promote the webinar through your current prospective member-outreach channels.

These approaches can be used in combination, and they aren’t the only ways to use your existing content to attract prospective members. When developing the strategies, it’s important to strike a balance between providing value and giving away too much content. Establishing the related data-collection and analysis strategies is also key to ensuring your efforts pay long-term dividends.

Helping set up and improve new-member campaigns is part of our expertise.
If you have a campaign you’re building, or one that could use some freshening up, we’d be happy to sit down and talk.

Online Content: Back to Basics

How is social media influencing our perceptions?

Trust in social media is low, and Americans have been spending less time on Facebook, partly because so much of what they see online is negative and dubious, a recent article in The Economist says. Globally, users spent around 50 million hours less per day on Facebook in the fourth quarter of 2017, which translates into a 15% drop in the time spent year after year, according to Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for relying too much on social channels to get your message out. Let’s be clear: social media is nowhere near dead. But it does suffer from a major credibility problem. Many people no longer trust the platform to deliver high-quality content or persuasive messaging because it is simply too easy to manipulate by nefarious actors.

That’s one reason we always advocate for a direct-mail component in every campaign–fundraising or political.

When your organization’s constituents cannot be safe in the certainty that the appeals and ads in front of their eyes are not the work of propagandists or fake news peddlers, then your online campaign will suffer. Donors will close their wallets, not wanting to chance being duped into funding a scam.

A beautifully written personalized appeal letter, on the other hand, addressed to your donor buys you instant credibility in a way social media simply can’t.

Using today’s digital channels—from Facebook to e-mail—is wise to consider when putting together your distribution strategies. But don’t forget to complement those efforts with tactics that offer a contrast, both in where they will be seen, and how people feel about them. Direct mail fits right in here.

It’s time to get back to the basics. Let us show you why high-quality direct mail still delivers.

Keeping Members On Track

Another long-time client of ours—a performing-arts venue—faced an interesting challenge. Its primary venue was undergoing a major renovation, but the shows had to go on! A temporary venue would host events while the main complex was being improved.

The situation created two immediate needs. First, patrons had to know what was going on—how long would the temporary venue be used, what were the changes coming in the new venue, and the like. Basically, expectations had to be set and managed.

The second need was more subtle but no less important: The organization wanted to make it as easy and convenient as as possible for customers to use the temporary venue.

Working closely with the client’s marketing and outreach teams, we developed a multi-channel strategy designed to get customers excited about the new venue and keep them engaged during the transition.

Membership Appeal

A direct-mail campaign used personalized URLs—or PURLs—on postcards that gave each recipient a customized web page that had directions from their address to the temporary venue and back. It also included recommendations on where to eat in the area.

The site also gave customers a customized view of the new theatre from their future seats.

All of it was backed with reminder emails to keep the information handy—and provided easy access to the PURLs.

“The idea was to turn an inconvenience into a chance to elevate member service, while getting members excited about the big picture,” Rapoport says. “The client was happy, and most importantly, so were the customers.”

Chapter-specific Membership Drives

If you’ve spent any time in association marketing or membership-recruitment, you’ve no doubt heard about the advantages of using data. Whether you’re looking to build your membership, retain members, or simply serve them better, data can help. Or so you’ve been told.
We’re not going to disagree. As our strategies have evolved over more than two decades, data’s importance as a marketing tool has steadily grown. One thing we’ve found, however, is that while our clients understand that they can be using data more productively, they’re not always sure how to go about it.

While there are myriad ways to leverage datasets, we wanted to present two recent real-world examples in which, working with association marketing executives, we helped develop data-driven campaigns with very specific goals.

Data Drive Recruitment & Retention

Our first example is a large professional organization with more than 100 regional chapters underneath a national governing body. Their goal: increase membership through a coordinated campaign that also worked in targeted messaging on, in many cases, a chapter-specific basis.
The task was a challenge, but well worth the effort. Coming up with chapter-specific messaging helped prospects feel more connected to the organization—a simple yet effective example of personalization. Delivering chapter-specific messaging also allowed letters to come from chapter presidents, rather than the national leadership.

Execution required driving messaging based on ZIP codes, which were grouped based on the chapters they are in. The effort was coordinated through the national organization—this ensured that messaging, while customized, had common content that was relevant to the organization as a whole.

“By having the national organization drive the campaign but programming it by demographics, a unified message could be sent out that appeared to be coming from the local chapter,” Grassroot VP-Sales and Marketing Sherene Rapoport explains. “There was enough customized content to make the messaging unique, yet the underlying theme supported the national organization’s goals.”
The campaign was a success, driving membership numbers up from across the country