Direct Mail Fundraising in the Digital Age

by | Oct 29, 2018

Does nonprofit direct mail fundraising marketing still have a place in nonprofit fundraising in the digital age?  You bet it does!

Connecting with potential donors with different types of touches – email, social, direct mail, events, and in-person meeting – works to help your nonprofit break through the noise and build support.  Multi-touch marketing helps potential donors decide to give for the first time. Multi-touch marketing can move first-time donors to become loyal and lasting supporters


Why Spending Good Money on Direct Mail Fundraising at All?

Because it still works! People still like to receive mail Aren’t you pleased when you go to the mailbox and find that it’s full? According to a Gallup Poll, you’re not alone. “In a world of email, texts and social media, 41% of Americans look forward to checking what is in their mailbox each day. Americans 65 and older are more likely than younger adults to enjoy checking the mail, but 36% of Americans under 30 also feel this way.”  

The last group includes the all-important Millennials. It’s easy to assume this generation – which was raised in the era of smartphones – would reject something as “traditional” as mail, but that’s not precisely true. “95% of 18-29 year-olds have a positive response to receiving personal cards and letters,” according to Forbes.

Nonprofit direct mail fundraising marketing drives online traffic Nearly two-thirds of respondents of a recent survey visited a website in response to a direct mail promotion. Over 50 percent engaged in social media as a result of direct mail.

Direct mail can move people to take action  Through online campaigns, like those you can learn about in the iMission course, Getting Your Next 1000 Donors, nonprofits are connecting with thousands of people who care about the people and causes these nonprofits serve. They are doing this through search marketing and social media marketing.  They are building their brand through the effective use of email marketing.  Many can become online donors. But for others that you’ve engaged with online, it’s the nonprofit direct mail marketing that moves them to become donors.

Direct mail remains the backbone of the year-end campaign for many nonprofits.  That’s because it works.

Tip One: Use Free Digital Data to Improve Direct Mail Fundraising List Quality

It’s practically impossible to overstate the importance of direct mailing lists to the success of your direct mail program. The more careful you are in analyzing and developing your direct mailing lists, the better your chances for success. Even small percentage increases in this response rate can dramatically change whether your direct mail campaign is a bust or a success.  
Consider the data provided by email marketing. Among many nonprofits, the number of contacts on an email list may be many times larger than the number of donors.  Which of these non-donor contacts are worth mailing? Platforms like Constant Contact or MailChimp provide a wealth of data. Track the people on your email list that are opening and clicking through to your email over time. The key here is that you are identifying people who are engaging with your email content not how many!  MailChimp even gives you a 5-star contact rating system so that you can quickly identify the contacts that are engaging with your email content.

Tip Two: “Append” Your Email List with Low-Cost Marketing Data

Sure, you may not have the mailing address or phone numbers for many people on your email list. No problem. Through firms like Accudata, you can run the names and emails through a set of cross-referencing databases. Presto. You now have the mailing addresses. In direct marketing language, this is known as an “append.” Unlike rented mailing list, the append adds information to the list your nonprofit already owns, so you’ll typically be free to add this information to your database and use again and again.

Tip Three: Improve Your Direct Mail Fundraising Content with Digital Analytics and Testing

Google analytics and Google Adwords Grant data, social media interactions and email marketing click-through data can help understand what content, what message and which asks are mostly likely to engage with supporters. Effective writing for direct mail is different from digital content, but many of the core themes, headlines and calls-to-action can be tested online at very low cost

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