Does Direct Mail Work for Nonprofits?

At first glance, direct mail may seem outdated and ineffective. You aren’t alone in wondering if direct mail actually works for nonprofits.

In our era of social media and email, direct mail can seem antiquated. And paying for printing and postage can seem like a waste of resources. But the reality is direct mail continues to be the workhorse of fundraising. The very best nonprofits have robust direct mail programs. That’s because direct mail is effective and, believe it or not, donors like to receive mail! Direct mail is here to stay, and it is a fantastic method of communication for nonprofits. 

So why does direct mail work for nonprofits? 

Direct mail has higher response rates.

One of the biggest advantages of direct mail is that it yields a much higher response rate compared to other channels.  

Despite all the hype, the average response rate of online and social media channels is disappointingly low. The average email response rate is around 0.1%, the average response rate of paid search is 0.6%, and 0.2% for online display marketing.

Direct mail, on the other hand, has average response rates of 5.3%.

Higher response rates mean more donors, and more donors means more money for your nonprofit! 

Direct mail is personal.

As a nonprofit, you likely can’t meet with every single donor who contributes to your organization. Many organizations turn to direct mail for a personal communication that helps donors to feel as special as they are.

The beauty of direct mail is that when it is done right, it feels incredibly personal. While email tends to feel cold and impersonal, direct mail feels like it was sent just to you and from one person. 

In today’s busy world, direct mail is a much needed personal touch. 70% of people agree that direct mail feels more personal than digital ones. 

does receiving direct mail work

Direct mail is memorable.

Most of us have gotten so good at deleting emails and dismissing banner ads, that we don’t even see them anymore. Direct mail gets seen! 

Research has proven that brands that utilize direct mail make more of an impression on customers and are more likely to be remembered than those who don’t. The USPS reports that brand recall is 70% higher when customers are exposed to direct mail compared to digital. 

This is likely because people spend more time interacting with direct mail compared to anything online. You hold the piece of direct mail, open it, flip through the pages, fill out a survey and (hopefully) make a donation. Direct mail can come in all sorts of colors, sizes, designs, and even textures. 

Direct mail is a win-win for nonprofits. You can expect not just good fundraising results, but also higher overall brand awareness. 

Direct mail faces less competition.

I don’t need to tell you that very year, people are receiving more and more emails and text messages. They are also receiving fewer pieces of direct mail. In fact, the average person only receives around 2 pieces of mail on a daily basis.

Less mail means less competition for the donor’s attention, and a greater opportunity for your nonprofit to stand out. 

Many nonprofits see emails and social media as an easier way to fundraise. Direct mail, on the other hand, is a bit more work and money, and requires a unique skill set. The end result is fewer nonprofits utilize the mail.

Donors like direct mail.

Seriously! Donors like receiving direct mail. 

According to the USPS, 55% of people said they “look forward” to seeing what’s in their mailbox. 56% stated that receiving and reading mail is a “real pleasure.” 

Donors also see direct mail as more trustworthy than other channels. 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy type of marketing. That’s certainly important when you ask donors to make a contribution. 

Direct mail works for nonprofits because it yields high response rates and is an effective way to fundraise. Direct mail is personal, tangible, memorable….and donors like it! 

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