Fundraising and continuing education are the lifeblood of associations and non-profits, and printing plays an important role in both. As more and more organizations begin to compete for the same dollars and budgets continue to tighten, it is as important as ever that organizations find ways to maximize their print spend. From training and education materials to postcards and direct mail, this guide is designed to help organizations find ways to do just that. Traditional rules for printing and distributing materials still apply, but what has changed are the technologies which now allow organizations to improve productivity, reduce costs and serve constituencies more effectively. We hope you find the information in this publication to be both informative and helpful.
MARKETING AND FUNDRAISING MATERIALS
One challenge that most non-profits and associations face is that beyond traditional fundraisers and events or continuing education and networking opportunities, they don’t sell a tangible product or service. To increase membership or improve awareness of a particular purpose or cause, marketing materials play an important role in connecting with audiences. In the past, organizations printed volumes of materials that quickly grew out of date. Today, using digital printing, all materials can stay current.
Brochures: Brochures play an important role in educating audiences about their cause, how they are funded and what they do with those funds. Today, many organizations provide that information electronically, but some audiences prefer printed literature. If you provide online brochures, format them so they can still be printed in smaller batches. To keep costs down, avoid bleeds and keep the overall size less than 8.5”x11” to maximize press runs and reduce bindery costs.
Calendars: Everyone loves a calendar, and most people use only one. An effective way to make sure your organization’s calendar gets used is to consider personalization. Using a spreadsheet, you can incorporate your audience’s name, or even image, into the graphics. Combine the personalized calendar with a year-end thank you note, and keep your message in prime view year around.
Postcards and Direct Mail: Consumers are hit with over three-thousand brand messages per day so to make sure your message stands out, consider personalization. Postcards come in a variety of sizes, both flat and folded, and remain an important marketing tool. The challenge you face is distinguishing your message from the piles of junk mail delivered every day. Using personalization, you instantly capture your audience’s attention, and studies have shown amazing increases in response rates due to personalization. The best thing is - personalization doesn’t cost a whole lot more!
Another consideration is mailing costs. Consider using presort or bulk rates, or a non-profit rate, to reduce costs. Unfortunately, many organizations lose those additional savings through poor planning; therefore, involve your printer early and talk through the entire project to avoid surprises at the end!
CONTINUING EDUCATION AND CONFERENCE MATERIALS
Among the most important functions many organizations provide are continuing and professional education courses. As class sizes decrease due to changes in our economy, many organizations face budget crunches; however, their constituency still has the same expectation of quality content and worthwhile educational events. The reality is that there isn’t a direct correlation between what you spend on training materials, and their effectiveness in the classroom. The key is the quality of the content, and the suitability of the material to the chosen delivery method. Many organizations have migrated to computer based training (CBT) which is effective in many instances; conversely some materials and some audiences are better suited for printed materials. Just because the materials are printed doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save money, and help the environment.
Books, Binders and Catalogs
Books and binders play a key role in continuing and professional education as well as conferences and seminars. To reduce costs associated with these materials, consider changing the way you set up your materials. Be sure to print double-sided, and use six-up slide sets for PowerPoint presentations. Also, don’t be afraid to increase your margins, but only on the outside so nothing gets punched out on the binding edge. When cutting and pasting from the web, use the “format” and “crop” options in MS Word to crop only the information you need. Instead of tabs, consider colored paper dividers. They are not only more economical, but also more earth friendly. Also, whenever possible, use recyclable coil binding or perfect binding as opposed to a three-ring binder. These binding options are not only less expensive, but can be recycled. Lastly, only order what you need, plus a few extras. With digital printing, reprints aren’t a problem.
CDs, DVDs, and Blended Content Delivery
Many organizations have moved to a “blended delivery” of conference, educational and training materials resulting not only in significant cost savings, but also in creating less stressful onsite experiences for meeting planners and event coordinators. In the past, organizations included all speaker and workshop content in printed form; but by using a blended method, you can now provide only the most vital presentations in printed form and the complete set of information in an electronic form on CDs, DVDs or USBs to be viewed or printed later. In fact, many organizations encourage attendees to bring laptops if they prefer to follow along during the event. For more information on how this works and the results that can be achieved, please see case study to the left.
Posters, Banners and Event Materials
Posters and banners are critical to assuring attendees are at the right place at the right time. Directional posters, oversized agendas, banner stands and vinyl banners are all effective tools in managing large groups of people at one time. These sound expensive, but they don’t have to be! When designing large format materials, consider using generic based posters with removable Velcro signs for instructional comments, speaker names, event times and location posters. These are event materials you can use over and over again, so avoid using dates on your base art. Unless they are for one-time use, avoid foam core. It may be less expensive than gator board, but you get what you pay for! Gator is much more durable. When using pop-up banners and banner stands, always choose hardware with a lifetime guarantee to avoid expensive replacement parts. Vinyl banners are great, but sometimes a less expensive paper banner will work. Be sure your printer offers multiple choices, and explains the pros and cons for all options. Lastly, always add extra time for distribution of large format graphics. Oversized shipping is based on dimensional weight, not actual weight, so next-day service costs can quickly get out of control!