Using Direct Mail for Fundraising

Many companies and businesses have been using direct mail for many years now, as a way to market their products and services. Although technology has paved the way for more modern marketing strategies, traditional direct mail continues to be popularly used. Aside from using the paper and snail mail medium, marketers today also do digital direct mail marketing through email.

It’s not only for marketing products and services that direct mail is used these days. The same strategy can also be used to “sell” causes and raise funds. The same techniques and principles can be applied, although the sales pitch is different.

Just What is Direct Mail?

Direct mail is a marketing strategy that makes use of printed materials (flyers, brochures, letters, postcards, coupons, etc.) sent directly to a company’s target consumers. These are designed to be more personal, yet they’re usually sent out to a mass of people that fit a specific demographic. In some cases, businesses send them out to the entire population of a given geographic area that they want to penetrate.

It works by directly targeting a group of people who are, based on their demographics, perceived to be more likely to heed the direct mail’s call to action. For businesses, it would be to purchase their products or avail of their services. For nonprofit organizations and charities, the direct mail’s call to action would be for the recipients to make a donation.

Raising Funds through Direct Mail

Many are quite hesitant to use direct mail because of the cost of producing materials and mailing them out. They’re also overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in a direct mail campaign, from culling the names, to the production of the printed materials, and to the logistics of the mailing process. The more common way of raising funds is through phone solicitations and big ticket donors.

You have to realize, however, that when done properly, direct mail can significantly increase your cash flow as it reaches more people than you can talk to over the phone on a daily basis. If you’re not yet doing direct mail for fundraising, you could be missing out on an effective way to solicit donations. The resources used to mount the campaign will not go to waste when you do things right.

To take advantage of direct mail to solicit donations, you need to:

  1. Have a good database – you need people to send your mail to. Expert fundraisers say that you should always send to your housefile or your active list. These are people who have already donated to you in the past, or are still donating to you regularly.

Go through your master file and think about who would most likely respond to your solicitation. Especially if you have a limited budget, you might not want to spend to send direct mailers to everyone on your list. Of course, if you only have a short list, there’s no stopping you from sending to everyone.

  1. Have a compelling message – the recipients of your direct mail should feel the need to help. Your message should “tug at their heartstrings” so to speak. Don’t be overly dramatic, though. It could come out as fake and pretentious. Be sincere and show how passionate you are about the cause that you’re championing.

For prospecting direct mail, you have to come across as legitimate and trustworthy. You can’t blame your prospects for being a little bit skeptical at first, since there are a lot of scammers today.

  1. Be creative in your direct mail package – you don’t have to stick to the conventional folded letter in an envelope or the typical postcard. You can be creative in the way you present your cause to the people from whom you’re soliciting funds.

    Remember that a lot of direct mail ends up in the trash without being opened by the recipients. You want your direct mail to stand out from the rest of the envelopes in the mailbox. That way, you’re more likely to get your message across to your donor or prospect.

Nurturing Relationships with Your Donors

Your connection with your donors should not end once they send in their check donations. Experts actually recommend that you nurture relationships with your donors. This is because they actually become your partners.

It doesn’t even matter how big or small their donation is. What matters most is that they believe in your cause and are willing to support you. They can help you spread word about your organization so you can get more donors.

Another reason why you should stay connected with your donors is that they’re more likely to donate to your cause again. One example is the experience of a nonprofit that launched a fundraising direct mail campaign for its new charity. The figures showed that the bulk of the funds they generated came from existing donors. It should be noted though, that they did not send to all of their donors. They only tapped 5% of their total membership for the direct mail campaign.

How to Retain Your Donors

Your donors are not just your source of funding. They’re people who believe in your cause enough to share their resources with you. Treat them well. When they respond to your call for help, be grateful, and keep the communication going.

That doesn’t mean that you should keep on sending them solicitation letters. While it’s recommended to include them in your regular direct mailers for fundraising, that’s not the only thing that you can send them. You can come up with other materials that don’t involve getting donations from them. Make your communication more personal. If you know their birthday, send them a birthday card. Send them updates on your projects, and let them know what their donation helped you achieve. 

Hiring a Fundraising Consultant

Those who have been raising funds for their own organizations would say that there really is no problem doing your direct mail fundraising on your own. However, there are benefits that you can enjoy too if you hire a fundraising consultant. For one example see

A consultant can bring a new perspective to your fundraising initiatives. As raising funds for your organization is a continuous undertaking, you want to have somebody who can focus on thinking of new strategies and programs to ensure that your own projects and causes are adequately funded.

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