How to Raise More Money with Direct Mail

One of GivingMail’s oldest clients – a nonprofit organization came about with the aim to provide medical relief to people of all ages without any discrimination. Thanks to their rapid rise in popularity among the masses, the donations they received soon became insufficient to cater to all the individuals who were unable to afford high-quality medical care. Due to a shortage of funds, the team behind the nonprofit started focusing on digital marketing strategies to spread their message and collect donations because in this day and age, digital did seem to be the best available option! Nevertheless, despite their dedicated efforts, they were still unable to meet rising demands. 

After months of struggling, the organization contacted a marketing specialist who guided them about direct mail. Even though they were initially a little hesitant to use this technique, the results of the direct mail experimental campaign left them surprised, to say the least. Their response rate doubled, and their donations started to increase steadily! Now, direct mail has become an indispensable component of the nonprofit organization’s marketing strategy as it enables them to benefit from more donations and serve their purpose successfully!

Like this particular client, if you believe direct mail is a dying strategy, and are not sure if you want to invest your fundraising dollars there, trust us, you’re not alone! Several organizations tend to be apprehensive of this method as they consider it to be outdated and assume that direct mail fundraising for nonprofit organizations can be improved by a tech solution. 

However, the truth is that direct mail is still one of the most effective fundraising strategies for nonprofits! According to Nonprofits Source, fundraising campaigns that use a combination of digital ads with direct mail yields 28% higher conversion rates. This indicates that a multi-channel approach is the best way to bring in revenue for your nonprofit organization and maximize your ability to do what you do best–serve your cause. 

Contact GivingMail today to achieve the highest possible conversion rates!

In this article, we will discuss why direct mail should be part of your fundraising strategies and how you can execute it successfully. 

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Benefits of Fundraising for Nonprofits Using Direct Mail 

Direct mail can be a powerful way to communicate legitimacy and evoke confidence in new and old donors. Here are some reasons why you should use this strategy. 

1. Higher Response Rates

Direct mail allows you to achieve high response rates. In fact, a Direct Marketing Association report from 2018 revealed that direct mail achieves a 4.4% response rate which is 37 times higher compared to email marketing rates at 0.12%. 

Higher response rates also lead to the possibility of increased fundraising revenue. Increased revenue translates into more capabilities for your nonprofit organization and a better reach for your cause. 

2. Connect on a More Personal Level 

Direct mail continues to feel more personal, helping it build a deeper and stronger connection between your donors and your nonprofit organization. People like to see their names referenced in communications and relate best when they are addressed directly. 

Personalization is also key to maximizing the impact of your direct mail. Thus, if your goal is to get the best response to your fundraising campaign, personalization becomes more of a necessity than a choice. Statistics published by Nonprofits Source state that including a person’s name and full color in the direct mail can increase response by up to 135%.

3. Attain Top-of-Mind Awareness

Direct mail is also an excellent way to attain top-of-mind awareness. Even in times when the recipient isn’t making a donation, keeping your organization in the donor’s mind makes them more likely to donate at some point in the future. 

Giving Mail can help you attain all these benefits and much more! Visit our website to learn more about the services we offer. 

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Direct Mail Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

Let’s look at how your nonprofit organization can best use direct mail to attain the maximum return on investment. 

1. Understand Your Target Audience

The most important thing to do when developing a direct mail fundraising strategy is to understand your target audience. The key thing to consider here is whether you’re sending direct mail to your housefile or a prospect list. 


Your nonprofit organization’s housefile contains a list of all your previous donors. It consists of individuals who have shown a commitment or an interest in your organization in the past. When sending direct mail to your nonprofit’s housefile, you might be aiming to bump up donors to the next donation tier, achieve a specific fundraising target or onboard a specific number of donors in a donation program.

Prospect List 

A prospect list is a list of individuals who haven’t yet interacted with your nonprofit but who might be interested in doing so in the future. You can purchase, rent or exchange prospect lists with other nonprofit organizations. Generally, the objective of sending direct mail to prospects is to get new donors that you can add to your housefile. 

Apart from these two general categories, it is helpful to segment your target audience further. This way, you can tailor your direct mail to particular groups. At the end of the day, personalization is crucial to developing strong and meaningful connections with your donors. Studies have found that personalizing fundraising appeals results in a 5 to 15 percent increase in revenue. Moreover, when direct mail recipients feel acknowledged as individuals, they are more likely to respond. 

After you have segmented your housefile into relevant groups, you will be able to attract your donor’s attention with a tailored tone and personal references. Longtime donors might prefer a more intimate and friendly tone, whereas donors with a history of volunteer involvement might like a reference to their past volunteer activity. 

2. Write a Compelling Story

Maybe the most salient feature of the direct mail fundraising strategy is the personal connection. The closeness of this interaction offers an excellent chance to connect with donors through strong and compelling storytelling. To narrate a meaningful story in direct mail campaigns, you should use the three Rs – relevance, resonance, and respect. 


A good story won’t be impactful unless the recipient finds it relevant. Make sure to use the “you” approach to generously incorporate the reader into the story. Call upon the reader’s beliefs and values. In addition, talk about the impact that a donation from a particular person can have. This enables the donor to imagine themselves as the hero of the story – which they truly are when they contribute to your cause. 


Your story needs to resonate with the reader – it needs to be truthful, moving, touching, direct, honest, and passionate. The best way to narrate a resonating story is to narrate a story that really took place. Combining multiple experiences into a single story seldom rings true because they aren’t actually true. 

To write the most powerful and impactful story, talk about the people your organization has helped. Visit their homes. Chat with their kids. Write down every detail that you can get. Collect more information than you think you require. Therefore, when you start drafting their story, you will have plenty of humanizing details to use to make your letter as heartfelt as possible. 


A strong sense of profound respect needs to be tangible in every letter you send to your recipients. Respect your readers by being genuine and honest and communicating your actual needs in an honest and direct manner. You should not insult the recipient or engage in manipulative tactics. You don’t have to exaggerate the urgency of your organization’s needs or use shock-value stories and images to terrify recipients. Your goal is to engage the donors, not manipulate them!

3. Make Your Letters Easy to Skim 

While it’s nice to sit down and relax with a good novel in your free time, that’s not how you want your donors to feel when they open your direct mail. 

It should only take a couple of minutes from the time that your donor opens your letter until the time they’re done reading. Direct mail letters that are complex or long are likely to lose attention more quickly. 

Thus, while writing letters asking for donations, make a conscious effort to use:

  • Uncomplicated words
  • Easy to read sentences
  • Direct call-to-actions. 

Ideally, you should use uncomplicated words while still narrating your story effectively. Try to keep your direct mail reading level around an 8th-grade reading level so that recipients don’t trip over words. 

Simple sentences might appear choppy to the author. However, when the reader is skimming content, shorter sentences get the point across much more easily and quickly. Complex and compound sentences require readers (regardless of their reading ability) to slow down in order to comprehend the message. 

A compelling call-to-action tells the reader precisely what you want from them. Make sure your reader knows that you’re asking for a donation and how much you’re asking for by the time they’re done reading your letter. The direct language will clarify your reason for writing to the recipient and make sure they know the next step of the donation process. 

4. Incorporate Relevant Keywords

In most fundraising for nonprofit efforts, you will discover that there are specific phrases or keywords that are most effective in capturing your reader’s attention. These words establish your organization as credible and highlight possible benefits for the donors. 

Put yourself in the shoes of the reader and think about what they find interesting. Consider the phrases or words you would want to hear from someone that will encourage you to donate. Then list down these words and incorporate them into your letter. 

Here are some keywords that are effective in direct mail fundraising for nonprofit organizations. 

  • Tax-deductible: This highlights the benefit your donors will get when they donate to your organization. 
  • You: The “you-approach” will put the donation in perspective for them rather than for your nonprofit. This will make them feel more connected and motivated to donate. 
  • Donate: Several nonprofits make the mistake of using the word “support” in their fundraising letters. Rather than asking for support, be clear and direct in asking them to donate or give. This clarifies your motive for writing to them. 

Wrapping Up 

Direct mail is one of the most important strategies for fundraising for nonprofits. They have high response rates, allow you to connect on a personal level, and attain top-of-mind recall. 

When sending out direct mail, make sure to segment your audience and tailor your message accordingly. In addition, write an impactful story, make your letters skimmable, and incorporate compelling keywords. At Giving Mail, we can help your nonprofit raise more money through direct mail. Get in touch with us to find out how we can assist you!

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