An effective fundraising and engagement strategy often includes a multichannel approach. A highly useful component of marketing deliverables is the direct mail appeal. When your organization combines physical marketing strategies with digital touchpoints, it creates the most significant impact on the audience of supporters and maximizes your fundraising potential.
A direct mail marketing push is a piece of mail sent to a potential or existing supporter’s mailbox. This mail should call the recipient to action by asking for a monetary donation or volunteer time, announcing news, and reporting on goal progress.
People often ask: is direct mail still a good option for nonprofits in the digital age? Yes! Direct mail remains a useful marketing channel. In fact, GivingMail’s nonprofit fundraising overview lists direct mail as an excellent component of a multi-channel marketing strategy. When enacted well, direct mail can be the driving power behind growth and success in your donor engagement. Moreover, people tend to comprehend and remember material better when read on paper vs. on a screen.
All that said, here are five ways to leverage your direct mail strategy to your advantage:
- Use direct mail to familiarize people with your brand.
- Get past the envelope open barrier with a postcard.
- Inform people about your digital fundraising campaigns.
- Provide a calendar of opportunities to get involved with.
- Get personal with your follow-ups.
With these tips in mind, your physical mail will catch the attention of potential supporters and encourage repeat engagement with your campaigns in the future. Let’s get started!
1. Use direct mail to familiarize people with your brand.
Hitting your financial benchmarks is the end-goal for your fundraising or marketing campaign, but so is creating brand awareness. Your direct mail can function as a way to position your brand with your community of supporters.
Through its high visibility and impact on the reader’s memory, direct mail increases brand awareness and recognition. People remember what they read on paper better than what they see online, so they’ll be more likely to recognize your brand in the future when they encounter your logo and name going forward.
To ensure that your direct mail sticks in the minds of your recipients, be sure to brand all of your direct mail with your logo, organization’s colors, and executives’ signatures to establish brand recognition for the future.
Your content should promote not only your organization’s unique branding but should familiarize recipients with the essential facts about your mission. Establishing your brand as a critical goal in your nonprofit marketing strategy will help you establish rapport with your community as you become better known.
2. Get past the envelope open barrier with a postcard.
Just how email has an “open rate,” which indicates if recipients see your content, so does direct mail. When people don’t bother opening the envelope, they don’t get to read your message, no matter how well-crafted and attractive it is. Although you’re never truly able to track if people open your mail, you can work around this by presenting your information up-front on a postcard.
A few best practices for creating an enticing postcard that will capture the attention of passive mail-readers include:
- A visually appealing design
- Large logo and organization name
- Eye-catching images
- An attractive color scheme
Above all, be sure to include an enticing call to action on your postcard. For nonprofits, this can look like an event RSVP or an easy way to donate (such as a QR code leading to an online crowdfunding page). By using a postcard or pamphlet-style direct mail outreach format, you can eliminate the envelope barrier and ensure people see the message.
3. Inform people about your digital fundraising campaigns.
A great way to leverage your physical mail efforts is to integrate it with a greater marketing push in the form of a direct mail appeal. Your fundraising request letter should first introduce the reader to your mission and goals, then call them to action by promoting your online giving opportunities.
Donation request letters should be a compelling way for recipients to learn more about your cause and see if their ideals connect to your mission. These letters are a chance to ask for donations and provide a space to clearly outline your needs and explain how their contribution will benefit your mission. Here are some best practices to consider when writing your letter:
- Appeal to their emotions – Hook your readers with an emotional story that connects to your mission and what you’ve accomplished as an organization. Mention the positive impact of your actions, and how it relates to your community overall.
- Make them the hero – Clearly explain how their efforts will drive your cause. This can be through providing examples of the specific, physical impact their contribution can have.
- Explain how to give – Include information on how they can donate through direct mail or online. Be sure to provide ways for the donor to ask questions or explore additional information regarding your cause.
When your appeals promote your online donation method, you’ll want to be clear on how and where the donor can contribute. The more donation opportunities you provide to your reader, the more likely they will give via one of those options. Your organization can communicate your ways to give by including:
- The URL for your online donation page
- A text-to-give phone number and keyword
- A return mailing address (and prepaid, pre-addressed return envelope) for physical contributions
To supplement your call to action, you can even provide incentives like discount rates on campaign merchandise to encourage more people to explore the online opportunities.
With these, your donation request letters will be that much more effective in leading people to engage online with your organization. Stuck in writer’s block when crafting the perfect direct mail appeal? For in-depth examples, refer to a guide for writing a donation request letter.
4. Provide a calendar of opportunities to get involved with.
There are ways to give and participate with online or virtual events in the most effective nonprofit fundraising strategies. In your direct mail appeals, be sure to create excitement and provide information on your organization’s upcoming events. After all, you’ll want people to know about fundraisers you’re hosting so they can get a better understanding of your organization’s efforts and outreach.
Because you’re mailing physical appeals to your potential donors, feel free to include an event calendar. A calendar gives them an overview of upcoming opportunities and makes it more likely that they’ll keep the mailer for future reference. If you’re looking for creative ways to host impactful in-person or virtual fundraising events, check out this handy list!
5. Get personal with your follow-ups.
Direct mail appeals are likely overlooked when it seems generalized. Personalize your outreach after campaigns and other engagement opportunities by incorporating donor information cached by your donor database into the direct mail you send them. Effective ways to add a personal touch to your outreach includes tactics such as:
Use what you know about each recipient to create a unique appeal for that person. This targeted strategy can improve your fundraising efforts, and make them feel included and appreciated. Some ways to personalize your letters include:
- Addressing the recipient directly
- Referencing their donation history
- Using a person’s name throughout the letter
- Signing your name
With these tactics, you’ll deepen your relationship with your supporters as well as establish rapport for your brand.
Strategic data insights
Donors want to know that their relationship with your organization is personal, not a name attached to a transaction. Use your donor database to keep track of personal information such as best contact method and engagement history. With this, you can reach out to thank donors for their participation and keep them in the loop with your organization’s mission. There are various other ways to leverage your donor database, as found in this GivingMail nonprofit database guide.
Segmentation is another efficient way to put your donor database to use. Donor segmentation is effectively grouping your supporters by their shared characteristics. This can help you get to know your supporters better!
For example, you can segment donors by repeat givers vs. one-time donors or those who have never given. You can get as in-depth as you’d like, even dividing them by recency, amount, location, and more. Check out this resource for more information on strategic segmentation.
Leverage your fundraising campaign with direct mail appeals, as they have a high chance of attracting new and repeat donations for your mission. Putting the extra time in to personalize your requests based on your donor’s data will earn you better results in your campaigns. Now, all there is to do is to strategize your next direct mail campaign!