4 Direct Mail Marketing Strategies For Your Nonprofit

Category: Strategies

When it comes to modern nonprofit marketing, many fundraising leaders assume that it’s primarily hosted online. They think of their website content, email newsletters, social media posts, and other internet-based communication. But what about direct mail?

Direct mail, like face-to-face fundraising, is a classic nonprofit marketing strategy that organizations have been using for years. However, as many nonprofit engagements are now centralized online, some fundraisers have let their direct mail strategies fall to the wayside to focus on their digital channels.

Interested in expanding your own direct mail efforts for your nonprofit? Before partnering with a dedicated marketing agency, here are some quick tips that you can implement to improve your direct mail marketing now! To get started, we’ll go over the basics of direct mail marketing and how this channel continues to drive value for nonprofits.

What is Direct Mail Marketing?

According to Meyer Partners, experts in integrated, multi-channel fundraising communications, “Direct mail solicitation is the process of writing, designing, printing, and distributing hard copy requests for funds to your donors and/or prospective donors. These solicitations arrive in your donors’ mailboxes and provide a tangible, physical connection to your organization.”

It’s easy to think to yourself, “No one opens mail anymore!” But studies show that direct mail fundraising campaigns are still incredibly effective—even more so than email campaigns! In fact, donors are more likely to read a direct mail appeal than an email appeal.

Why is this the case? Well, let’s explore the benefits to direct mail marketing:

  • Direct mail provides a more personal touch. One study found that 59% of respondents agreed with the statement “I enjoy getting postal mail from brands about new products.”
  • Direct mail has a higher response rate than email. Direct mail’s response rate hovers between 5% and 9%, compared to the standard email response rate of 1%
  • Direct mail is more likely to get read or scanned. According to one USPS study, 53% of Americans read every piece of mail while 21% at least scan.
  • Direct mail builds trust more easily than online marketing. With online scams becoming increasingly common, people tend to trust direct mail more than internet ads.

To summarize, a direct mail appeal has the potential to be more personal and trustworthy than digital appeals, but only when it’s done right. Keep reading to explore the direct mail marketing strategies you can implement now.

4 Strategies to Incorporate into your Direct Mail Marketing

Just because you know the value of direct mail marketing, it doesn’t mean that all of your supporters will respond positively to a letter in the mail. Firstly, you have to consider preferences, as some would rather avoid as much paper mail as possible, whereas others would love the personal touch a physical letter has.

Here are some other strategies you can use to ensure that your direct mail marketing is engaging the right supporters:

1. Know your audience.

Determine which supporters to include in your direct mail marketing campaigns by tracking key data that lets you understand your audience. Your audience consists of both your current donor list and prospective donors.

Keeping your audience’s preferences and past actions in mind is critical for guiding the type of direct mail appeals you send out. For instance, you might reach out to current donors with an appeal to give to a specific campaign, whereas prospective supporters might be sent more informative materials to introduce them to your nonprofit.

Segmentation is critical if you want to refine your direct mail campaign and ensure that each recipient receives targeted messaging. Customizing your messages to your supporters’ interests and level of involvement increases the chance that they’ll respond or take action!

Take this a step further by personalizing your letters with other data, like names, past gift amounts, and so on. Recipients will love this personal touch and feel further connected to your mission. This is why it’s helpful to get to know your donors and track their data.

2. Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling.

Direct mail’s personal touch is one of its most notable advantages. This is why direct mail is also the perfect time to leverage your storytelling abilities and connect even deeper to your audience and readers.

To connect with your recipients, tell a story that resonates with them. For instance, if you send direct mail to show appreciation for a gift, you might include the real story of its impact. Be as specific as possible and explain how exactly the campaign helped the community you serve and furthered your mission.

A good tip is to position your direct mail readers as the hero of the story. Make sure to put them as the main subject and emphasize their role in your fundraising campaign with messages like: “Thanks to YOUR gift we were able to reach our fundraising goal of $5,000.”

3. Use varied media forms.

While you may not be able to send videos or interactive media through the mail, there are still many opportunities for using varied media forms.

For instance, combining both visual and written elements can cohesively tell your nonprofit’s story and engage readers in your letter. Consider including photos of real people (make sure to get permission!) or include creative designs that highlight the main points of your appeal.

You can even include QR codes that readers can scan with their phones to navigate straight to your donation page!

4. Set goals and track progress.

Any successful direct mail marketing campaign requires a data-based approach. This is why it’s essential to set goals for your campaign and then actively track its progress. Doing so can even help you pivot strategies in real-time if you notice that a certain engagement isn’t doing as well as you’d like.

Make sure you have extensive data analytic capabilities in place to measure the success of your various direct mail marketing appeals. This can provide insight into the strategies that worked best and weed out the ones that didn’t produce the results you expected. For instance, you might notice that direct mail appeals with images did much better than ones that were strictly text-based.

Track the metrics that are relevant to your goals. A few common metrics most nonprofits keep track of for their direct mail campaigns are response rate and gift rate.

While a direct mail campaign can provide a lot of value to your organization, make sure to continue marketing through other platforms. The most recommended approach is to use multi-channel marketing and figure out which channels work best together for your mission and audience. When you use your direct mail, online marketing, and face-to-face efforts together, you have the best chance of reaching your supporters, building relationships, and inspiring gifts.

About the Author

Bonnie Meyer

Bonnie brings to her role at Meyer Partners more than 30 years of fundraising experience, with a special emphasis in multimedia approaches to new donor acquisition and development. Her expertise encompasses several facets of direct response fundraising, including copy writing and creative direction, market research, strategic planning, and comprehensive results analysis.