direct mail

One way the election will impact your fall auction: communications

Last week we explored the upcoming presidential election’s impact on fall fundraising auctions, and concluded that the popularly held beliefs are misconceptions (see our blog post on the topic for an in-depth analysis). But there is one area where the fall election cycle is going to impact fall events: direct mail, mailing houses, and the sheer volume of communication people will receive.

The first week of November is consistently one of the top three busiest weeks of the year for mail. If you are planning on sending an invitation or direct mail to your attendees between October 1st and November 4th, make sure that your mail house is not going to be inundated with political work. One event planner we work with only contracts mailing houses that don’t do any political work; she wants to ensure her clients are top priority.

Non-profit communication always faces stiff competition for recipients’ attention, and during an election year that competition is much fiercer. It is no longer limited solely to direct mail, either. Since the 2010 election, political campaigns have come to rely more upon email, social media and other electronic outlets. For events in November, this means that your two-week prior touch-base with attendees to confirm their attendance and get them a copy of your auction catalog is going to be competing with a lot of other noise.

Your most ardent supporters will know who you are and open your emails to them – but their guests might be another story. Relationships rule development, so leverage all of the connections you have. Utilize your network of supporters: have table captains reach out to their guests directly on your behalf to market your auction (see our blog post on the subject). And start now: I am a big fan of expectation management through clear communication. If you get your supporters committed to making your event a success in advance, they will help continue that tradition every year.