You need to learn from the big boys. Mailings
conducted by Publishers Clearing house always contain a lot of
material. You can be sure that what they do is tried and tested. It
produces results. Ask yourself what you can do in a mailing to raise
funds that will be similar to what they do? They are of course
trying to sell a product to make a profit. They may consider public
image, but very little would be considered unethical. As Christians
we do not want to manipulate people into giving, however we need to
create a vision for the ministry that will motivate listeners to
become involved in becoming a regular supporter.
Each mailing should include the following:
• An appeal for funds. This does not always have to be a strongly
worded letter informing your mailing list of how little money you
have. You need to measure the way you ask for funds so that the
recipient does not have the sense that every letter is the same.
People give to overall vision for what you are doing rather than
specific needs. Your vision needs to constantly be in front of your
supporter. You need to tell them of your vision for ministry and you
need to show it in your actions.
Keep in mind that the decision to give is one of emotion or even
conviction rather than a reasoned plan.
• Make it easy for people to respond by including a return envelop.
• Include a simple response card that outlines three specific things
people can do to help the ministry. Your letter will outline the
vision for ministry and the overall need. Your response card should
outline three simple, very specific things people can do to meet the
• Have some type item for people to complete and return to you that
does not involve money. This can be a survey, quiz, game or contest.
Many times some kind of meaningful prize will be associated with it.
If people spend time with this survey or contest they are more
likely to include a donation when it is mailed back to you. You will
find that about fifty percent of those participating will send a
An item like this will also create a desire to open the envelop.
People will know that your mailing has more in it than just an
appeal for money.
• In the various elements that are included with the mailing always
keep ministry in mind. Use the letter, the contest and even on the
response card as a vehicle to speak to needs of the recipient.
Since fund raising is an on-going program and not a one time shot
you need to develop your image in the mind of the recipient. There
are other things that should be included with the mailing from time
• Write a newsletter. Think about how busy people read things. You
need to grab the reader’s attention and try to get through as much
information as you can in a short amount of time. Be creative by
using catchy headlines, pictures, graphs and charts. Make your news
letters look more like The USA Today newspaper rather than the Wall
Include information that people want to know, i.e. a Concert
special events. Insert quotes or verses of scripture that minister
various needs that people have.
The newsletter can be used to present the vision for your ministry
telling and showing people what you have done and what you will do.
What do you want people to believe about your ministry? In politics
call this “spin control.” Create a mailing list and use it to
image with your constituency.
• Any salesman will tell you that testimonies are an important
element of sales. Include a testimony in the appeal letter. From
time to time send a page front and back of testimonies you have
received through the mail. If someone mentions something to you in
person or on the phone get their name and address and write them a
letter repeating what they told you and ask permission to use it.
Some testimonies may be very personal and a person would not want
their name used, however most of the time people would love to see
their name in print.
Use the airwaves to your advantage.
Since you are going to include some interesting and attractive
things in your mailing you need to tell people about it on the radio
so they will anticipate opening the envelop you are preparing. To
say we are sending a letter telling you about how much money we need
does not sound very exciting. However, since you are including a
survey, game, quiz or contest the people on the mailing list will
look forward to their opportunity to express their view in the
survey or win some kind of prize in the contest.
Identify who is listening to your station.
Station promotional activities need to be developed in such a way to
identify who is listening to your station. Constant development of
your mailing list is essential. Most of the time it takes two to
three years to develop the relationship with a new listener to the
point where they feel comfortable making a gift to the station. You
will find that most of your donations come through the return
envelopes that you send to those on your mailing list. The number of
donations you receive in a hand addressed envelop will be small.
Identify who your listeners are for station promotion advertising
How much would you be willing to pay for a mailing list of your
listeners? With a mailing list of 10,000 names you should be able to
raise $400,000 to $700,000. There could be some rare exceptions, but
with some work you should be able to build a mailing list of 10,000
addresses regardless how small your market is.
Here is one idea on building your mailing list:
There are publishers that offer specials on books where you can get
a discount when ordering in quantity. Well known titles can be
obtained for $3 to $5 each. Barbour Books often will have some
titles that can attract attention for as little as $1 each. There
may be other items that can be given away as well. Get 100 to 500
copies of a book or obtain that same quantity in two different
titles to give the listeners a choice. Promote your book give away
several days in advance. Tell them you are taking a survey and want
to find out who listens and where they listen. Everyone who calls in
gets a copy of the book. Make it a fun day and talk to some callers
on the air. It is a great promotion to have people hear that many
people listen from all walks of life. You of course will obtain
addresses for your mailing list.
We have done this type thing for years at KJIL. We now have 12% of
the homes in our listening area on our mailing list. Even after
doing this many times, one-third of the callers will be first time
People will ask if we purge our mailing list of people that don’t
give. Are you kidding? Why would someone want to discard the name
and address of someone who listens. This mailing list can be used
for promotion and advertising even if not every one gives. When you
are doing fundraising you perhaps will mail often to those that have
a history of giving. You should view the names on the mailing list
of those that don’t give as potentials supporters. It could easily
take three years to develop a relationship where the person feels
comfortable enough to make a donation.
You should also identify the giving patterns of donors. Look for a
pattern of giving and send out different letters depending on the
donor’s interest in support. There are those that will give $25 a
month. Others may give $500 or more to a capital campaign. We have
those on our mailing list that will not make a pledge to be a
monthly donor, but they give almost every time we send a fundraising
Hey! Let’s get a move on. A recession only means you need to work a
If you want to talk about your situation give me a call,
is observing forty years in broadcasting in 2009. Great Plains
Christian Radio consists of seven full power stations and thirty-six
translators. The flagship station, KJIL, has been named Station of
the Year most recently by NRB and in the past they have received
that honor from GMA, NAB (Marconi), Focus on The Family and the
Kansas Association of Broadcasters. Don Hughes and his wife
Polly have been married for thirty-one years and they have six
Don Hughes can be reached at