Personalization is key.  With the technology available today, there’s no reason you should be sending targeted direct mail to any donor or prospect and addressing it to “Dear Friend” (or anything other than the donor’s name).  That’s no way to start or build a relationship.

But donor name isn’t the only level of personalization you should be using.  Use the data available to you on your donor file to create a highly personalized, more relevant direct mail solicitation.

Referencing your donor’s city or neighborhood in copy gives your appeal a more local feel, which is especially important if you are a national or regional organization that isn’t headquartered in the donor’s home community.  Use donor gift history to customize your ask strategy appropriately for each individual donor.  You can also improve response rate by mentioning the donor’s last gift amount and date within the letter copy.  This will help you when trying to renew lapsed donors as well.

Bottom line – use all the information available to you to craft the most personally relevant appeal letter possible for your donor.