Direct Mail for Non Profits

Direct Mail for Non Profits

For non-profit marketers, every penny counts. You want to receive maximum investment towards your cause while spending as little as possible. After all, every dollar wasted on fruitless marketing was a dollar that could have been spent on your campaign. That’s made social media and email campaigns the backbone of modern non-profit marketing. Mail seems so old-fashioned by comparison. You need energetic emails, extensive mailing lists, and viral social media posts.

Except, direct mail isn’t dead.

In fact, direct mail for non-profits is amongst the best marketing strategies available. Even today, many charities and non-profits routinely rely on paper and ink to meet their goals. And it works wonders!

Why direct mail should be part of your fundraising efforts

Just as television didn’t replace books, nor the internet erase phones, digital marketing isn’t a replacement for direct mail. Smart marketers know how to use different mediums to achieve amazing results.

Indeed, direct mail differs significantly from other marketing methodologies. For one thing: it’s real. Rather than an impersonal email or Instagram post, direct mail can mean a signed letter, an invitation to an event, a collection of success stories, and more. All it takes is a little creativity. 

But that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop in the analog world.

QR codes or URLs can direct people from a success story to a YouTube video about the journey. Or link to your fundraising page. Or your website. Multi-functionality is the bedrock of a solid marketing campaign. As the old saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. As a matter of fact, marketing campaigns combining direct and digital mail boast a 28% higher conversion rate.

By combining your campaign, social media and digital elements can integrate seamlessly with real-world mail. Together you can broaden and expand your reach and create a greater intimacy with your patrons. 

They might even start looking forward to your monthly mail. For instance, it could follow the story of someone your organization helped or foster a sense of community. 

Why non-profits should host a direct mail fundraising campaign

There are even more reasons to go direct. Direct mail campaigns don’t have to be a one-off. Newsletters are often relegated to emails. Few, if any, ever read them. People spend as little as 15 seconds reading an email. The stories and news get lost. But spending the time to print a newsletter and send it to your patrons can ensure repeat, loyal donors. 

It also helps get the word out about your latest fundraising campaign. And gives the means – perhaps through an attached form and envelope – for your patrons to return their support. 

There’s even the chance that a copy gets left in a church hall or a friend picks it up while visiting. That way, a physical copy of direct mail generates greater interest than a lonely email. It generates participation, community, and engagement. It’s no wonder then that response rates are often ten times greater than digital marketing.

Maximizing direct mail campaign with minimal resources

Return on Investment (ROI): in a nutshell, it’s the ultimate goal of marketing. How to get the most while spending the least. For non-profits with little spare cash, ensuring their direct mail campaigns work is essential.

But how do you maximize your impact?

1. Data. Data. Data

Learning from past campaigns is an excellent place to start. Knowing what worked and what didn’t helps provide an insight into your target market. You don’t want to waste money on a fundraising strategy that routinely underperforms.

That means relying on data. Which appeal got the most responses? Which method was the most lucrative? What are the demographics of responders? How are your supporters getting involved? 

These questions will inform your future strategy. But just because a campaign previously worked doesn’t mean dumping more resources will yield even greater results. Learn from the past, but don’t throw out the rule book. Nevertheless, if most money comes through URL donations, push that front and center. Even if it’s not the only option available.

2. Tailor your message

While you can’t write new mail for each customer, consider creating a few pieces tailored to different markets. Little tweaks such as addressing the mail to the reader or including a suggested donation that aligns with previous donations encourages greater participation.

Through variable data printing (VDP), you can customize graphics, copy, even calls to action specific to your audience. Thank them for a past donation or their years of support. Remember: it costs much more to gain a new donor than to keep the old. 

You’ll also want to choose your words carefully. Using emotions connects the reader to your cause. But different readers may respond more generously to different messages. Parents will be touched by the plight of downtrodden children. Young people by stories of stolen youth or lacklustre opportunities. Either way, remember that the hero of the story is the donor. They make the difference. 

Put them in control, and you’ll have a patron for life.

3. Integrate your campaigns

Don’t run parallel digital and direct mail campaigns for non-profits that don’t interact. It’s a waste of resources. Let the mail piece merely serve as your hook. It’s a curiosity that engages the potential donor. Then, funnel them onto your website or donor page: QR codes are super simple solutions. 

Put simply: make everything integrate seamlessly and flawlessly.

If people want more information, make it only one click away. Don’t make it difficult. Anything from renewing their membership, pledging towards a new campaign, or reading more about your success stories should only be a few clicks away from post to web page. 

4. Focus on your design

No longer do direct mail campaigns need to compete with dozens of other daily deliveries. Today, most of us receive only a few leaflets through our door. That makes it easier to be seen, but you still need a design that catches the reader’s attention. Bold letters, excellent copy, and a colour scheme to match your cause – they’re all essential to improving your conversion rate. 

One aspect you may not have considered is using an envelope. Flyers can be thrown away; envelopes are opened, their contents read. Add in an envelope with a patterned border or a message on the back, and you can readily hook in potential donors. You stand out! Indeed, oversized direct mail envelopes have an ROI of 37%!

Best practices of using direct mail for non-profits

Where to begin! Once you’ve decided on direct mail for non-profits campaigns, there’s the simple matter of getting the highest ROI. Following best practices can save costly mistakes. But what are the top tips for using direct mail?

1. Hire the professionals

It’s all-too-easy to assume you can do it yourself. After all, direct mail is little more than sending envelopes to clients. Wrong! Every cent you spend on a professional campaign will make all the difference. Copywriters can hone your language into a message you can’t ignore. Meanwhile, graphic designers create eye-catching designs that pop or soothe depending on your tone. 

Professional direct marketing agencies also know how to evaluate campaigns for success. They’ll focus on group leaflets. They’ll wealth screen your database, identifying supporters with the greatest capacity to give. 

Most of all, they stop you from wasting essential resources or annoying loyal patrons with haphazard communications.

2. Keep the focus on the donor

Remember, the victim isn’t the hero; the donor is. 

Sentences like, ‘Aisha struggles to feed her five-year-old brother’ have a massive emotional impact. But with a simple line – “You can change that” – it’s transformed into a call to action. For many non-profits, it’s easy to get lost in work. But rewarding and inspiring new donors keeps the whole enterprise running. 

3. Record everything

Any and all data from a direct mail campaign should be collected: where you sent letters, who responded, and why. Future campaigns can be honed by the past. Planning your data collection is as important as the campaign itself. 

4. Mail should be skimmable

No lengthy paragraphs. No convoluted sentences. Get to the point and then stop. An entire letter should take only a few minutes to read. It should have only the important points, with links to your website for further information. Overall, you want to aim for your direct mail to be around an 8th grade reading level (age 13-14).

Final thoughts

The only way you’ll know how your audience responds to direct mail is to take a leap. Design your campaign and think inventively how direct mail fits into your marketing constellation using the above tips.

Just because direct mail seems antique doesn’t mean you can’t innovate. Simply stick to the key rules: keep your message simple, advocate your mission, and always thank your supporters. 



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