Non-Profits: How to Raise Funds with Direct Mail

Francis Andrews in his book “Billions by Mail,” summarizes the power of direct mail by saying that the only way to get consistent donations over a long period is to acquire, cultivate, and renew donors using the direct mail method. Well, true, direct mail is the king of fundraising activities for many organizations, especially for non-profits.

Well, many organizations want to catch up with the technological developments and are in a rush to switch their fundraising activities online, using the internet and social media marketing techniques. Well, internet is super power no doubt, but when it comes to fundraising, internet and new technology is lagging far behind, contributing just about 7% of the total fundraising. Analysts predict it might take another good 20 years for the new technology, internet to contribute significantly to fund raising.

Thus making nonprofit direct mail model the most preferred option to raise funds for their causes. But, the important question is how to effectively use this model to actually raise enough funds for your cause. Here are some tips on how non-profits can leverage the power of direct mail model to generate the required funds.

•  Mail your Housefile first: Direct mail source comes from lists containing the target prospects, donors. Housefile, is one such file with the list of prospects who have already donated to the organization sometime in the past. Prospecting is another file, which has the lists of completely new prospects, and you will have to cold mail them, or mail them for the first time asking for donations. In some cases, such a list is purchased or exchanged.

Nonprofits have to first mail their Housefile, no matter how small the list is, even if you have a handful of contacts in the Housefile, it is highly recommended that you mail these contacts your mails as a first priority, as they have already made donations, and trust you! While on the other hand, prospecting lists requires expertise and experience in how to use the list and get support and donations. In addition, the cost of sending direct mail is more as compared to sending an email or making a phone call, as such you do not want to send tour direct mail ( to a prospect without actually knowing if you would get donations from them or not.

•  Mail Brochures, Thank You Letters to your donors: Well, make your donors feel valuable, and not just as your wallets. So rather than sending them only direct mails soliciting donations, send them regular newsletter, updates, brochures, and thank you letters often. Another important point to keep in mind is use list wisely, and sparingly, only when you actually need funds, if you solicit funds regularly, or overuse the list, you may lose credibility.

•  Test the Campaign before you actually try it:  Direct mail fundraising requires you to send out mass mailers to prospects and donors. With the postage charges, etc. going up, this would prove an expensive exercise, so before you actually send out a 100,000 mailers, it is recommended that you send out a test 5000 mailers and based on the success of the test campaign, you can decide on the mass mailings. Testing is particularly important when you mailing from the prospecting list, as the list has all new contacts, who have never made donations, you need to measure the effectiveness of the list before you actually send out mass mailers.

Finally personalization is the key to any business; even for non-profits in raising funds personalization can go a long way. Develop a system to thank all your donors and request their support in the future, as well!