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Planning for the 2020 Election Mail Cycle

Michelle Johnston Michelle Johnston Senior Manager of Strategic Development

On September 19th, the Direct Marketing Association of Washington held a Lunch & Learn in Washington, D.C. to talk about 2020 Election Planning. The discussion included some great information about making the most of an election year mail cycle and ideas you can incorporate into your non-profit mailings from the political world. 

 The five key takeaways were:

1. It is more important than ever to inspire passion about your mission.

Amongst political donors, non-profit giving actually rises in an election year because donors’  passion for causes is at high alert when a potential political change is happening. With non-political donors, however; giving decreases. So, now is the time to get people passionate about your mission! You don’t have to politicize the messaging – just make sure they understand that those issues that are important to them, like climate change or equality, are also important to you.

2. As you plan mail schedules for a political election year, make strategic decisions about mail dates.

In the months leading up to a presidential election, the mail cycle is clogged with political mail, and delivery times for third-class mail start to slow down. So take a look at your mail schedule… if your largest acquisition mailing is in August – which is usually the start of the height of political mail cycles in an election year – it may be time to think about temporarily moving that mailing to better take advantage of the elongated delivery times and clogged mailboxes. Even a small shift to the mail date can help ensure that you are still hitting homes in the target range.

3. Be open to small production changes to best take advantage of quick turn materials.

Due to the short timetables for political campaigns, one strategy for turning work quickly is to work with your production team to find out what paper stocks or materials are readily available at the printer, instead of trying to procure specific stocks. Ask your production team to check if there are any alternate stocks on the floor at the printer that are regularly stocked and would not need to be ordered specifically for your project. This can help cut down on production time as well as costs.

4. When something is working, don’t wait to try it again.

Political campaigns don’t have the luxury of time so when something is working, they have to capitalize on it while it’s still hot. Non-profits can learn to do the same by retesting something that is working now, instead of waiting for final results to come. Especially in acquisition – if you find something that worked, don’t be afraid to try it again soon. 

5. During an election year, you have to do more to stand out in the mail.

The same packages you have been mailing may not work in an election year due to the sheer number of mail pieces that the average donor will receive in their mailboxes. Now is the time to try new things with your outer envelopes – change the size, add color and personalization and make sure your donors can identify your mailings. 

And Production Solutions can help! While planning for your 2020 mailings, make sure you are talking to your production team and let us help you make the most of your fundraising efforts.

About the Author

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston Senior Manager of Strategic Development

Michelle, PS’ Senior Manager of Strategic Development, has
been serving with PS since 2013. Michelle is from
Woodbridge, Virginia and she telecommutes full-time from
Leesburg, Virginia. Michelle enjoys spending time with her
husband, singing and papercrafting!
Michelle has over 10 years of experience in our industry, and
she has worked with more than 10 of PS’ clients, including the
Wildlife Land Trust, National Jewish Health, Heifer
International, The ALS Association, HelpMeSee and Special
Olympics. Michelle works on developing PS’ strategy and her
dedication to communicating authentically and investing in
success are just some of the reasons that Michelle is such a
valuable asset to her team.