How to Use Direct Mail Effectively for Nonprofit Fundraising


How-to-Use-Direct-Mail-Effectively-for-Nonprofit-FundraisingEvery penny counts in charitable or nonprofit organizations, so it’s understandable that some are cautious about investing funds in direct mail efforts. Direct mail, however, has a special, tangible quality that can give weight to worthy causes.

Keep in Touch with Existing Donors

Your house list is your richest source of possible funds. This is the list you’ll turn to first in any fundraising effort because, having supported your organization or charity in the past, they’re already open to requests for support. It’s equally important you keep in touch with the people on your list in between fundraising, however, so they don’t just hear from you when you need something from them.

Send out newsletters to let people know about:

  • Company news
  • Goals met
  • Special achievements
  • Awards won
  • Personal stories from those who’ve benefited
  • Greeting cards for Christmas or other celebrations

Make it clear how much you value everyone’s support, and how their financial help has contributed to the success of a project. A simple thank you, with an update, goes a long way.

One word of warning – don’t overdo it by bombarding your list every week. Two or three mailings a year is enough, unless you’re running a monthly newsletter and have specific permission to send mail more often.

Test Everything

There’ll come a time when you will want to try something new. Either dipping your toe into prospecting via direct mail, or sending a new type of communication. If your list is large, this could prove expensive. Unless you have historical data to back up the likely success, testing on a small section of the list helps you figure out the likely ROI before you invest heavily.

As well as testing new types of mailing (sending out a survey, for instance), you should keep records regarding the success or otherwise of previous fundraising campaigns. Referring to historical data will go miles towards helping you create future successful campaigns.

Keep the Cream at the Top

Know your top donors and treat them like the VIPs they are. You could have special, high quality stationery reserved only for them, send them additional information such as project news or advance notice of upcoming fundraising efforts. They’re giving more than the average, so give more than the average back in return.

Keep Donor Choices Open

Integrating online and offline communications is always a good idea, and happily such integration lets you give potential donors alternative methods of helping with your fundraising. Adding an online option is as easy as including a special URL that leads to a dedicated donation landing page on your website.

The more options you can provide to encourage donations, the more likely you are to obtain multiple donations over time. Research has shown that donors who use a variety of channels tend to give more often, and online fundraising is consistently increasing.

Including direct mail in fundraising efforts extends your reach and opens new doors. Using it effectively is a skill all nonprofit organizations should learn.

Direct Mail Best Practices