4 Ways to Support Your Nonprofit’s Outreach with Direct Mail

4 Ways to Support Your Nonprofit’s Outreach with Direct Mail

By on Mar 26, 2021

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nonprofit fundraising strategy

Successful outreach requires understanding your donors and what makes them decide to give. Of course, no two donors are exactly alike, which means your nonprofit has to account for lots of different supporters with different motivations and different ways to reach them.

Expanding your outreach strategy to attract new donors (and keep the interest of current ones) necessitates diversifying your marketing approach. However, this isn’t to say that your nonprofit should launch multiple distinct marketing campaigns. Instead, you can support and build upon your current efforts with marketing on new channels.

To be specific, many nonprofit organizations rely heavily on digital marketing due to its relatively low cost and quick delivery rates. Digital marketing can reach new heights when it’s supported by a direct mail marketing campaign that works in tandem with your online strategy. To explain how this works, this article will discuss how direct mail can:

  1. Build Momentum
  2. Show Gratitude
  3. Reach New Audiences
  4. Create Emotional Appeals

Adding direct mail to your nonprofit’s marketing strategy works best when your nonprofit has a solid sense of direction for its campaigns. Consider how you want your supporters to interact with your marketing materials at each stage in your campaign. Then, craft physical and digital appeals that don’t compete with each other, but work together to create a comprehensive picture of your nonprofit.

 

1. Build Momentum

Digital marketing campaigns can connect your nonprofit to supporters all over the world. However, your campaign is also competing with hundreds of similar organizations to get noticed.

Earning and maintaining engagement with supporters throughout your campaign requires varying your outreach efforts so supporters consistently have new ways to participate.

Direct mail can help give your fundraising campaigns a sense of progression. For example, here’s an outline of how your campaign could pair its online campaign with a direct mail communication channel:

  1. A letter is sent to announce your campaign’s launch. Creating a timeline with a definitive beginning and end allows you to establish a sense of urgency in supporters. Formally announcing a campaign through a physical letter that personally invites supporters to participate gives supporters something to look forward to as your campaign gets started. If your campaign has any events or activities planned, letters sent ahead of time give supporters the ability to clear their schedules in advance.
  2. Emails serve as a reminder and invite further participation. Follow-up emails create an additional touchpoint. This means that supporters who are already familiar with your campaign from your initial letter will be more receptive to your marketing when they recognize your branding. In other words, sending out emails in addition to physical letters reinforces your message and gives supporters another chance to participate in your campaign.
  3. Social media posts update supporters on your campaign’s progress. Social media platforms promote the use of posts that are brief and attention-grabbing. This makes them the perfect avenue to provide additional quick updates on your campaign’s progress. Regular updates can attract attention during the entire length of your campaign, while also letting supporters know how close your campaign is to its goal, generating a sense of excitement as you get closer to the end.
  4. Thank you letters are sent in the mail to those who participated in your campaign. Your supporters should receive automatic thank you messages when they donate online. However, it’s considered better practice to thank your supporters more than once. Sending a thank you card in the mail lets supporters feel acknowledged while giving them a physical token of your nonprofit to hold on to.

Online fundraising is a powerful tool when used alone. However, by reaching out across multiple channels, your campaign becomes more dynamic and, thus, more exciting. Direct mail can be used as a jumping-off point, so your online marketing feels unique through brand recognition, giving it a better chance of standing out from the crowd.

 

2. Show Gratitude

Your donors support your nonprofit because they believe in your cause. However, they also want to feel like their efforts matter and are appreciated. Thanking donors is a natural part of the fundraising process, which makes finding new and innovative ways to show your appreciation a necessity.

As mentioned, your online donation form should immediately send out a thank you email. This lets donors feel acknowledged, while also confirming that their donation was received.

Unfortunately, these messages tend to be impersonal and easily forgotten. Remember that thanking donors isn’t just a matter of being polite. You also want your nonprofit to create a memorable experience for donors that helps build a relationship.

Use your messaging tools to create direct mail thank you letter templates with space for supporters’ preferred names. You can automate parts of this process without sacrificing the personal feeling of physical letters.

 

3. Reach New Audiences

While many donors give online, fundraising statistics show that 16% of donors still prefer to give through direct mail. It’s also worth noting that even your digital donors may not frequent the same online spaces that your nonprofit uses. By limiting your outreach solely to digital marketing, you are also limiting your potential audience.

Similar to email, traditional mail is direct, one-on-one communication between your nonprofit and your donors. Donors who receive a physical document or item (such as a refrigerator magnet) worth keeping might want to keep it in their homes, which means they will also keep your nonprofit in the back of their minds. Additionally well-designed items on display have the potential to catch the attention of visitors, spreading your nonprofit’s brand and name by word of mouth.

Mastering a new communication channel requires research and experimentation, which necessitates an investment of time and resources. However, expanding your marketing allows your nonprofit to reach new supporters and solidify your connection with current supporters.

Research your current supporter base to understand who is giving to your nonprofit and what their preferred communication channels are. Take these characteristics into account as you craft new materials. Your direct mail audience is likely to have similar goals and motivations as your current base but different preferences for how they’re addressed.

 

4. Create Emotional Appeals

We often assume that people are persuaded by facts, statistics, and other numbers that show how effective or important something is. However, many donors first give to a cause based on their personal feelings, then look for facts to back up their decisions.

Unfortunately, online spaces are not always the best places for emotional storytelling. Long-form articles give your nonprofit the space to describe anecdotes and other emotional appeals from your constituents, but there are unfortunately few places online that provide the space required to tell your whole story.

GivingMail’s guide to direct mail appeals points out that traditional mail better supports storytelling because it can capture supporters’ attention without other messages or notifications interrupting. To tell an engaging story, they specifically recommend:

  • Connecting with the reader. Readers need to understand why your letter is worth reading within seconds. Even the most engaging story needs something to pique interest early to convince readers to continue to the end.
  • Using appealing visuals. Our eyes are drawn to colors and visuals over words, but this doesn’t mean that your visuals compete with your prose. Instead, choose visual elements that attract the eye and also complement the rest of your story, encouraging supporters to read the letter to understand the visuals.
  • Segmenting your audience. Match your story to the audience who will read it. For example, consider creating unique fundraising and thank you letters about the specific constituents helped by each of your campaigns. Supporters who donate to one of those campaigns will feel a greater connection to your nonprofit because the story they read is directly related to a donation they gave.

Ask your constituents for stories you can share with your supporters, so you can create marketing materials that show donors the impact they have on real people. Emotional appeals don’t just convince new donors to look into your nonprofit, but also help retain current donors who want to know that their donations are achieving something meaningful.

Direct mail’s strengths lie in its tangibility and ability to convey emotion. Digital marketing’s strengths are its speed, convenience, and outreach potential. When combined, your nonprofit can reach a larger audience with a comprehensive, consistent campaign that doesn’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years of experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision-making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.

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