Woman reading DMWe hear it all the time. “My response rate is down. We have to beat our control. We need new, breakthrough ideas.”

Sometimes this diagnosis is spot on, but frequently we find that small modifications to existing packages can make a huge difference.

Since we work with hundreds of nonprofits that test constantly, we thought it could be helpful to offer some suggestions that can improve your direct-mail fundraising. Here are six quick ideas:

1. Get to the Point (Size). As basic as it sounds, many nonprofits print their letter copy in point sizes that are too small. As the average age of direct mail donors continues to rise, making your type more readable can make an important difference in your response. We often see 13pt—with double-spacing—works well. So think big!

2. Get Personal. Sometimes marketers forget that direct mail is a personal medium. Every letter is read by one human being at a time. Despite the fact that you may send out millions of letters a year, direct mail isn’t a mass medium. So address donors by name… reference the exact donations they’ve made… and mention the causes or events that have moved them in the past. Push the envelope on this if you want to see more BREs filled with donations!

3. Less is More (Sometimes). Many nonprofits touch thousands (or millions) of lives. Yet expressing the totality of your nonprofit’s efforts is often less motivating than telling the story of one life that you have impacted or that desperately needs your help. As a nonprofit, touch as many people as you can; but as a fundraiser, find emotional stories of specific people to touch as many hearts as possible.

4. More is More (Sometimes). Another easy step that is worth considering is adding a premium or an additional premium to your package. Naturally, you want to be prudent about any testing which could add expense, but packages that show more appreciation to donors often drive far more in terms of net revenue. Cards, labels, and note pads are all still cost-effective premiums that can drive success.

5. Stamp Out Poor Results. When it comes to postage, play it to your advantage. Testing live stamps, customized indicias, a live stamp on your BRE, etc., can make an important difference in results.

6. Get a Second Opinion. When all else fails, you should talk to a pro who does a tremendous amount of direct mail testing. Their aggregated insights can save you lots of time and catapult your performance. As a service, Innovairre does a number of Free Creative Critiques every year. We review the nonprofit’s packages, diagnose their creative’s strengths and weaknesses, and then provide pragmatic testing recommendations. If you want to be considered for one of these Free Communications Critiques, just send us an email with your details.

We hope there was something in this little blog piece that can make a big difference for you.

CSI—the Creative Strategy & Innovation team—practices the science of marketing at Innovairre Communications, which helps more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. For help with your multichannel fundraising activities or anything else, contact us at Answers@Innovairre.com.