Fundraising is a top priority for non-profit organizations, and many are skittish about using direct mail to propel their efforts. Visiting a business in person or picking up the phone doesn’t cost anything but time. Sending an email is fast and free.
Direct mail takes an initial investment of time and money. As a non-profit, part of your job is to keep costs low so you have more to give to your cause.
But the power of direct mail for fundraising shouldn’t be ignored. Direct mail continues to deliver high returns on investment and can help you fill your non-profit coffers at scale while still keeping marketing costs low.
If you’re considering direct mail campaigns for your non-profit, put these seven tips into practice to increase your success:
#1 – Mail to Your House File
Direct mail campaigns often fall under two categories: your house file and your prospect file. Your house file is the list of current donors who have already contributed to your organization. These are the people who are familiar with your cause, giving you an automatic “in” that boosts your chances of an ROI.
Whether you have 10 addresses or 1000 addresses in your house file, you should be mailing them at least once a year asking for donations. It’s also a great way to stay top of mind with donors and keep your address list up to date.
The house file list delivers a greater ROI than cold prospects who have never given to your organization (and may have no clue as to who you are or what you do!).
#2 – Prospecting Mail Shouldn’t Be Ignored
Though it’s true that house file mailings are more profitable than mailing to strangers, that’s not to say that prospecting mail has no purpose.
Prospecting mail’s goal is usually to make back whatever you invest (i.e. the cost of mailing). But the real value is adding those prospects to your house file list so you can target them in a future campaign.
There’s an art to writing an effective non-profit direct mail letter for prospects, and it’s not a process beginners should undertake. Rather, consider outsourcing your letter to someone experienced in writing for non-profit fundraising so you don’t lose more than you make.
#3 – Not All Non-profit Direct Mail Should Ask for Donations
It seems counterintuitive: why would you send a mailer as a non-profit if you’re not expecting a donation? Isn’t that just wasting precious funding?
Other types of mailings, such as newsletters or awareness-type letters, can be effective tools for building your non-profit’s brand and awareness in the community you’re targeting. Think of it as a way to build relationships with your donors rather than bombarding them with requests for funding.
Use it as an opportunity to show how their donation is being used. Keep your list fresh so that you can cut down on future mailing expenses. Prove to them that they mean more to your organization than just a cash cow.
#4 – Infuse the Right Elements in Your Content
Most successful direct mail campaigns blend four critical elements into its content:
- The entertainment factor
- Personal message
- Conversational tone
- Multiple calls to action
The entertainment factors bring your reader into the picture, whether it’s a funny anecdote or personal experience. Even in serious fundraising attempts, there’s always some story that keeps the reader engaged.
Fundraising letters are usually written by a person, not an organization.
It’s a personal message from one human being to another, so words like “I” and “me” are used throughout the piece.Even in serious fundraising attempts, there's always some story that keeps the reader engaged. Humor and funny anecdotes can be included too. Click To Tweet
The letters are more conversational than corporate speak, increasing the human element.
And finally, the letter asks more than once for a donation or gift. Inertia is a major issue in non-profit direct mail campaigns, which is one reason why many organizations fail to gain the full benefit. Your calls to action should be sprinkled throughout the piece to encourage the reader to donate.
#5 – Make the Donor Feel Important
As a non-profit, you’re already doing something important for your beneficiaries. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be investing your skills and love for the needs of others.
But donors need to feel important, too. They know that you’re doing good things for others as a non-profit. Your sales letter should be more about the donor, not yourself or your organization.
Don’t be afraid to gush over their heroic gesture or flatter them profusely. Your donors really are the unsung heroes of your organization, so make sure you treat them that way when sending direct mail.
#6 – Keep Your Message Simple
If you’ve ever seen direct mail letters asking for donations, you’ve likely seen some poor examples. Long, two-page letters and clunky wording are easy ways to get your mailing tossed in the trash.
Keep your message short and simple so it’s more likely to be read. Short sentences and paragraphs make for easy readability so donors don’t have to guess what you’re asking for.
#7 – Track and Measure Your Direct Mail Results
Non-profit direct mail has plenty of benefits, but those benefits won’t be fully recognized until you track and measure your ROI. You must put in the effort it takes to compare what you spent on direct mailing versus what each campaign brought it, compare it to previous results, and find ways to improve future mailings.
Ideally, over time your direct mail costs, including time, will decrease while your ROI increases. You learn what worked in each campaign and apply those factors to other mailings. Otherwise, you may be spending blindly and not maximizing your full potential.
Level Up Your Non-Profit Direct Mail Campaign
Non-profit direct mail campaigns can be one of the biggest drivers of your success. You’re sharing a good cause and bringing its awareness to others. And unless you get enough of an ROI on your campaign, your non-profit won’t be able to help your cause as much as you intended.
Las Vegas Color Graphics works with non-profits to produce direct mailing campaigns that fit your budget. Talk to our team today for a quote on direct mailing services and discover how you can turn up your fundraising success.