In a sea of derivative direct mail, the most recent package from St. Jude’s to land in my mailbox is an absolute standout. Especially because it tackles an area that so many nonprofits struggle with: legacy giving. How do you talk to people in an honest yet compassionate way about lending their support to your organization beyond the end of their natural lives?
In their legacy ask, St. Jude’s deftly takes the reins and approaches their supporters with grace, gratitude, love, and compassion. Unsurprisingly, it ends up working very well for them. But what exactly makes this direct mail showstopper shine like it does?
- Let’s start with two things: the timing and the envelope. I’m receiving this in the beginning of the year, meaning within the first three months, and reaching out from the start is always a smart way to go when it comes to maintaining donor relationships. Secondly, the oversized envelope made itself known. It inevitably stood out from the rest of the pack, and on that day, the pack was huge!
- The letter’s closing. This is powerful, and it’s directly from Regina Watson, Vice President of Gift Planning, and on behalf of everyone at St. Jude. Not only that, but it really hammers the gratitude home.
- The handwritten PPS. It’s a beautiful message that encourages additional communication between SJ and their legacies, offers legacies an opportunity for recognition, and extends an extra layer of gratitude.
- The newsletter. Titled “Friends In Hope,” it begins by providing ideas as to how donors can take stock of their will and become a legacy supporter of St. Jude’s. It’s coupled with powerful imagery directly tied to who St. Jude’s is and what they do — because of their donors. Inside, the newsletter explains how donors can benefit through making charitable gift annuities, introduces a special legacy gift society that donors have the opportunity to join, tells the story of young Natalie’s cancer battle, and more. I loved Carolyn Ayoub’s story of her mother’s legacy gift. It brings the hospital’s history and founder Danny Thomas come alive.
- The response device. Natalie appears on the device, which displays options for legacy giving, charitable gift annuities, communicating legacy interest, and making a standard, one-time gift.
From start to finish, this package from St. Jude’s knocks it out of the park and is a nearly flawless example of how to communicate with your donors about how they can generate a legacy impact, and if it’s something they’d like to consider doing. But I’ve got one small complaint about the letter, and it’s not the first time. Can you see what it is?