The 5 Best Direct Mail Fundraising Strategies

The 5 Best Direct Mail Fundraising Strategies


FYI: taking the traditional route doesn’t mean that you have to lack innovation. 

Including direct mail in your marketing strategy may be the nudge millennials need to break from the screen and engage with their charity of choice.  Though email seems convenient, direct mail is a lot more memorable. “Only 44% of people can recall a brand immediately after seeing a digital ad compared to 75% of people who receive direct mail,” according to Gunderson Direct, a company that creates direct mail programs for growing businesses. 

Albeit old school, this is the perfect time to introduce a different mode of communication.  With the ample benefits that come from incorporating direct mail within your donor strategy, the tangible and personalized touch of direct mail can be the edge that your donor relations need.


As we spring forward amidst the looming ubiquitous pandemic and various challenges, this is an optimal time to encourage donors to join offline campaigns that connect them with like-minded members of their communities, while being safe and intentional. Direct mail marketing can be an adventure, as charities and educational institutions gain the benefits of connecting with their donors in an organic and fun way. We can all use a little more connection that is rooted in purpose. 

Invite your team to strategize with joy and connection in mind. Link your cause and donation marketing campaign to local purveyors and raise awareness within your community. Although non-profits often champion causes, it’s truly the community that upholds the long-term commitment to advocacy and transformation. 

Fundraising strategies have a clear goal in mind, “revenue,” yet when done with persistence, brands and donors gain much more. This is an opportunity to implement systems and practices that allow you to get to know your donor, enlist support from the community and lead with innovation by putting experiential learning to the test.

Here are five direct mail fundraising strategies that will captivate, excite and encourage your supporters.

1. Develop data hygiene

Basically, data hygiene is data management and security. It is the process of keeping your direct mail data meticulous, up-to-date and secure. Have you ever searched through a file cabinet, only to waste time peeling through old papers that no longer have any use to you? Now imagine that in digital form. A mess. Data hygiene makes it so that there are no miscellaneous files, only relevant ones. With proper data hygiene, all of your donor names would be up-to-date, addresses current, and phone numbers working. The goal of data hygiene is to refrain from mishaps. Imagine sending mail to the wrong recipient because they no longer live at the address that you have on file. Now you’ve not only wasted time, but money. Though this is a traditional mode of communication, you should never lose efficiency. The more carefully placed your data is, the more productive you can be with your donor information. 

As an organization, it’s also important to mention that how you store, access, and share data can influence your direct mail marketing strategy at the execution level as well. Is your donor database secure? With an abundance of data, charities, NPOs and schools are now faced with creating systems to collect, manage and analyze it all. Although overwhelming, it is essential to have effective ways of organizing this information to keep the integrity of sensitive information intact. High-quality data is created by high-quality systems. Believe it or not, proper data hygiene will allow for a smoother mailing process, making room for segmentation and more effective personalization.

2. Design an Audience Segmentation Strategy

Categorize your audience! Who belongs where, and why? Where’d you meet them? What’s their age? What are they interested in? All of this matters when it comes to carefully grouping your donors. Based on the variables you choose to group them by, the opportunity for creativity increases.

Whether you choose to group your segments based on behavior (the amount a donor gives, or when they typically give), geography, demographics, or psychographics (lifestyle, values and interests), segmentation is a critical way to ensure quality control and optimize the campaign you’re launching.

3. Excite donors by incentivizing joy!

Create a game-inspired initiative with a fundraiser element, using direct mail. Whether solving a puzzle or entering a raffle, introduce new ways for your donors to fundraise that increase the joy factor. As we prepare for the new school year in the coming months, this is an effective strategy to engage parents and the community to give back with a smile.

4. Create an initiative that fosters inclusion

Invite donors to showcase their talents for an opportunity to be featured in an upcoming showcase, exhibition, or annual celebration that garners support for the cause. Nonprofits may invite donors to submit photography that lends to the narrative of the cause or, even better, the solution to the problem that the charity is committed to solving.

5. Demonstrate donor impact with care

Direct mail offers a unique way to show donors exactly how their contribution, time, or in-kind gifts have impacted the organization. The more personal, the better. With countless charitable organizations and educational institutions to choose from, your donors choose you. That’s big and deserving of a significant thank you that is cost-effective, yet on-brand. A personalized letter sharing the donors’ impact may solidify support for years to come.

As the world continues to shift and reshape based on the global pandemic, increased demands, and a newfound perspective on what we value, it’s crucial that the social sector follows suit and re-assess best practices to fundraise. There is no better time than now to reevaluate and assess the marketing and communication strategy that has been put in place. 

Direct mail fundraising strategies, when done with consideration and precision, reflect the broader business and marketing plan that organizations have worked relentlessly to design. The disaster relief systems put in place may or may not have sustained growth and sustainability during the pandemic. The power of pivoting with a new plan may have the long-term impact needed to foster the relationships of donors and key stakeholders. 

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