Four reasons your nonprofit needs direct mail

A direct mail fundraising program can:

  • Rapidly build a large file of consistent donors
  • Provide a regular stream of revenue for your organization
  • Quickly build brand awareness in the community through robust acquisition
  • Develop a large pipeline of potential planned and major gift donors

Rapidly build a large file of consistent donors

Direct mail fundraising is by far the quickest and most cost-effective way to build a large file of donors who will make ongoing contributions to your nonprofit. 

For certain, there are other ways to acquire donors cost-effectively.  You can use special events, social media, cause-related marketing, networking/individual engagement, etc.  Those will all bring new donors to your organization.  And some of these channels will deliver donors at a lower cost than direct mail. 

But none of these other means have the ability to quickly generate the high volume of new donors that direct mail can at the same costs. 

Because the donors you acquire through the mail are direct mail responsive, you can continue to solicit them through the mail on an ongoing basis and generate additional revenue regularly.

Provide a regular stream of revenue for your organization

Don’t believe me?  Do the math with me.

Let’s assume you have 20,000 donors, and you mail them once a month.  Let’s further assume that you get a 5% overall response rate, and a $32 average gift (neither are overly aggressive).  Here’s what that would look like on an annual basis:

20k x 12 = 240k (pcs mailed) x 6% = 14,400 (resp) x $32 = $460,800. 

That’s nearly a half million dollars a year in revenue, using pretty conservative response rates and average gifts.  It doesn’t take into account any special middle donor upgrade programs, any large gifts that will undoubtedly come from your mail campaigns, or the value of these donors to other areas in your organization (special event attendance, advocacy, volunteering, planned/major giving, corporate sponsorships, etc.).

Quickly build brand awareness in the community through robust acquisition

A robust direct mail acquisition program will help your nonprofit quickly build brand awareness in your market.  Your brand and your key messages will be delivered directly to your target audience, en mass.  It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to get your brand in front of thousands potential donors (and in some cases, even in front of potential clients).

If your acquisition strategy is multi-channel, and includes things like Insert Media, SEO and other vehicles, you’ll garner even stronger brand awareness (and better fundraising results) from your acquisition program.

Develop a large pipeline of potential planned and major gift donors

Target Analytics’ planned giving research has consistently found that donor loyalty (specifically giving over multiple years) is one of the most predictive factors in the likelihood to make a planned gift.

And we know that one of the best ways to increase donor loyalty in the way of consistent gift giving is through a monthly direct mail solicitation program (I’m sure jaws just dropped across the blogosphere . . . but yes, I said monthly solicitation).  The best way to increase frequency of giving is to increase frequency of asking. 

Go figure!

When it comes to major gifts, you’ll find that some of your most valuable major donors have come through your direct mail program.  It shouldn’t be a surprise.  They might first check you out by giving you a $20 gift in response to an acquisition mailing.  But if you prove yourself (i.e., you’re trustworthy, you show them what their gift accomplished, and prove that you’re a good steward of their funds), you might just earn a position as a favored charity.  This could someday lead to a major gift for your organization.

A few years ago I was leading annual giving at a children’s hospital.  Our file was almost 100% direct-mail acquired.  Since we were ramping up for a capital campaign, we needed to identify potential major donors in our existing donor base.  We contracted with a wealth profiling service to review our existing donor base and identify potential major donors.  Out of ~70,000 records, we were able to identify approximately 2,500 people who could make cash gifts of $10,000+.  Many of these people first came to know our organization by responding to a direct mail acquisition campaign. 

If you don’t believe me, just look at your own data.  Watch for donors who increase their giving over time, and you’ll start to see patterns.  Donors who double or triple their giving in a defined period are sending you a signal.  Take the time to research them, get to know them – what motivates them, why they give, why they give to you – and you’ll probably find that they have the potential to make an even larger investment in your organization.

I’ve blogged about this connection between direct mail and major gifts before, and so has my good friend, Roy Jones, over at Roy Jones Reports

Now that you know some of the benefits of a direct mail fundraising program, find out if direct mail fundraising is right for your nonprofit.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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