3 important nonprofit strategies using direct mail

Strategic direct mail fundraising can help nonprofits better understand what tactics are working.
Date Published

Whether a nonprofit is interested in fundraising or distributing information about upcoming events or volunteer opportunities, a significant number of donors look to their mailboxes to get these details. Each contributor prefers to get information from the nonprofit group they support in a specific way, whether it’s through direct mail, email or updates on an organizational website. Oftentimes, nonprofits respond by using an integrated approach, depending on each channel to communicate or appeal for donations at different times. However, with direct mail, it’s important for charitable groups to consider the following strategies:

1. Measure costs
Arguably, direct mail is one of the more expensive marketing and fundraising methods that nonprofits use, so they need to smart about how they spend money. For instance, the color of the ink nonprofits use on mailers can affect their financial reserves, according to direct marketing and public relations specialist Blase Ciabaton, writer for the blog The Direct Mail Man. Working with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, a local environmental group, Ciabaton explained the organization’s logo had multiple colors, but incorporating them into the direct mail pieces isn’t cost effective, especially for mailings with 2,000 items or fewer.

2. Get automated
While staff members can perform a wide variety of functions, nonprofit and donor management software can make charitable organizations run much more smoothly, especially during fundraising campaigns. Manual processes like aggregating contact information can be tiresome using a standard Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, but software programs can ensure addresses are accurate. This cuts down on the time staff members waste that could be put toward higher priority tasks and makes sure donors get the right information in a timely manner. Ciabaton also suggested utilizing U.S. Postal Service intelligent mail barcodes because it can save nonprofits on postage rates.

3. Track responses
Without measuring engagement and tracking responses, it’s much harder for nonprofits to understand the return on investment they’re getting from their direct mail campaigns. Here’s where digital tools can help groups get a better idea of whether or not recipients are interacting with the mail piece. One strategy Direct Marketing News recommended is using a vanity URL – or, in other words, integrating a Web link on the direct mailer that connects donors to a landing page. It’s called a vanity URL because it doesn’t usually have a “.com” or “.org” attached and they’re typically somewhat promotional, highlighting the name of the organization, fundraising campaign or project. When donors follow the link, charitable groups can immediately see who is responding to the direct mail piece and what action they’re taking, as well.

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