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Is Direct Mail a Good Option for a Nonprofit Organization?

You’d think that with the advent of social media and a multitude of ways to communicate with your donor base, old fashioned direct snail mail would be dead and buried by now. But the truth is, direct mail is still a valuable tool for many nonprofits.

In fact, research shows that donors who are initially solicited through direct mail end up giving more than others. When it comes to fundraising on a broader scale, direct mail continues to be a beneficial option because it can result in an approximate generation of 60 to 80 percent of the total revenue. In comparison, email only delivers between 5 and 15 percent revenue.  

The key to succeeding with direct mail is in knowing how to use it. This means making sure that you are using the channel wisely and for the right age group. Here are a few things to keep in mind when setting using direct mail communication.

Age Group Matters

Not everyone on your mailing list donates the same, nor do they respond the same way.

Millennials – the generation born between the years 1981 to 1995 – and later generations will probably be more responsive to other, faster forms of communication such as email. Generation X (born between 1965 – 1980) and Baby Boomers (born between 1946 to 1964) in contrast, will be more likely to donate if they are solicited through direct mail.

Understanding the giving patterns and preferences of your donors will help you develop a strategy that ensures your resources go where they will be most effective.

Current vs. Potential Donors

Using direct mail does involve a certain level of investment to prepare and send out information packs. If you are already on a tight budget, you may want to re-evaluate what type of donor you are going to target.

Existing donors will be those who have made a contribution to your organization at least once before, while potential donors would be the people you are reaching out to for the first time or perhaps even for a second or third time but they have yet to make a contribution.

A good option would be to use direct mail to cultivate relationships with existing donors and send them personalized letters such as those with signatures of higher executives to make them feel more welcome as opposed to wasting the resources on potential donors who may not even contribute.

Communication Style

Like with all forms of communication, you want to make sure that the way you present yourself and your organization through direct mail is engaging and interesting. You don’t want your donors throwing away the mail as soon as they get it!

Find creative, useful ways to engage them such as a good quality magazine or newspaper, a physical checklist of upcoming events or ideas for them to get involved in ways other than donating.

Your goal with direct mail should not just be to invite potential donors to contribute to your cause; it should also be to keep them interested and make them feel like they are making a difference by being a part of your organization.