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The Basics of Direct Mail Fundraising for Nonprofits

What is a direct mail fundraising campaign?

A direct mail campaign is a fundraising initiative that relies on mailed solicitations for donations. Your campaign can include both fundraising and general marketing direct mailers, such as:

  • Donation appeals to current supporters
  • Donation appeals to prospective donors
  • Invitations to fundraising events
  • Important updates about fundraising progress
  • Stewardship letters, such as thank-you, birthday, and anniversary cards

To reach the widest audience, nonprofits often complement their direct mail strategy with a variety of digital marketing materials

How to get started with direct mail fundraising

The first step to starting a direct mail fundraising campaign is to define your goals and create a plan. Determine a timeline for the campaign, and choose key performance indicators to measure your success, such as direct mail conversion rate. Then, decide what types of mailers to send out and which segments of your audience to focus on. 

To develop a thorough strategy and create effective direct mail appeals, consider partnering with a nonprofit marketing agency. These professionals can help you personalize your appeals, seamlessly incorporate direct mail into your overarching marketing strategy, and provide data analysis throughout the process. 

Direct mail fundraising best practices

A lot goes into a successful donation appeal or thoughtful appreciation letter. Follow these best practices to make the most of your direct mail fundraising campaign: 

  • Make every letter donor-centric. When you ask readers to make a contribution, emphasize the impact they will make on your nonprofit’s mission and goals. Focus on how the donor makes a difference, rather than your organization alone. 
  • Use donor segmentation to personalize direct mail. In your CRM, create segments of donors based on giving level, giving frequency, engagement history, location, and capacity to give. Then, tailor your messaging for each group. When possible, also include specific data about individuals’ past contributions or involvement. 
  • Add QR codes. Donors reading your letters don’t have to send money or checks back through the mail. Easily direct them to your nonprofit’s online donation page by adding a QR code they can scan. 
  • Include compelling visuals. Select images that appeal to donors’ emotions or prove your organization’s impact, such as images of a volunteer event or a grateful beneficiary. 

Throughout your campaign, evaluate your mailers’ effectiveness and make adjustments to your strategy as needed. 

Where Does Direct Mail Fit Into Digital Marketing?

Direct mail can fit right in with your digital marketing efforts! By creating a multichannel marketing strategy, you can reach more supporters in the ways that appeal to them. Combine your direct mail appeals with marketing on channels such as:

  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Your website

Align marketing on each channel with your nonprofit’s branding and cohesive messaging, and you’ll create content that keeps supporters engaged and invested in your organization.