How to Personalize Your Nonprofit Fundraising

The beauty of a direct mail letter is that you are able to reach thousands or millions of people in a cost-effective manner. But that never means your letter should feel like it is going to thousands or millions of people. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. It should feel and read like a letter written from one person to another. Like the kind your grandmother used to send you. And personalization is one tool you can use to achieve just that. 

Personalization is highly effective. In a Forbes article on direct mail marketing, over 84% of consumers said they’d be more likely to open a piece of personalized nonprofit direct mail. And according to an Evergage study, almost 90% of US marketers saw measurable improvements because of variable data personalization.

Ways to Personalize:

Name. Adding the donor’s name is a quick and easy way to make your appeal more personal. As Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” 

No one wants to be addressed “Dear Donor.”

Using the donor’s first name throughout the letter will also help make the tone of your letter more conversational, which is exactly what you should be aiming for.

Donation History. This is a biggie. It is typically the most powerful personalization tool nonprofits have. You can note the donor’s previous contribution amount, how long they have been giving to your organization, and of course tailor the ask amounts accordingly. You can also use which appeals they have responded to tailor parts of the letter. 

Location. People often give to that which is closest to them. Referencing the donor’s city and state can let them know that you’re helping in their community. 

Gender. Your offer may appeal differently to women than to men. Just be careful here and make sure that is based on testing and not your gut feeling. 

Images. Personalizing the images on your appeal can really speak to your donor. For example, if your donor has only given to appeals that focused on dogs, show a picture of a dog and not a cat.

Things to Keep in Mind:

Personalization is only as good as your data. Make sure your data is as clean as possible and work hard to capture the information on your donors that will be relevant in the future. 

Think the personalization all the way through. Good personalization can make such a difference. Unfortunately, so can personalization gone wrong. I once received an appeal thanking me for my donations totaling $0 this year. In this case I was a lapsed donor and I should have received different version. 

Start small and don’t overcomplicate things. Take on what you can realistically handle. 27 versions of a letter is likely not going to turn out well. Try testing a few things to start and improving with time

For more fundraising advice and news, check back for new posts on our nonprofit fundraising blog. If you’d like help with your direct mail fundraising, GivingMail offers nonprofit direct mail solutions. Here are some nonprofit fundraising ideas to get you started.

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