US Data Corporation Direct Marketing Blog

Direct Mail: The Fundraising Champion9:15 am

By Melissa Cober

Direct Mail: The Fundraising ChampionFundraising is an integral part of many businesses and organizations. However, convincing people to donate some of their disposable income to your cause is not always an easy task, and it has been made even more difficult by the economic downturn. Luckily, direct mail is here to save the day. Direct mail is an extremely effective fundraising tactic, and any organization that depends on fundraising as a major source of revenue should absolutely be utilizing this practice.

Many businesses and organizations, especially smaller ones whose budgets are tight, shy away from direct mail. They are intimidated by direct mail’s higher initial cost per record, but fail to consider the substantial advantage that direct mail has over email when it comes to bringing in donations. Did you know that in 2011, 75% of new donors were acquired by direct mail? Or that a typical nonprofit received 75% of its donated revenue through direct mail? What’s more, a large portion of long-term donors who are initially acquired online often switch from online giving to offline giving, while the reverse is rarely true. All of this means that fundraisers need to take direct mail very seriously, because it is far and away the fundraising champion among direct marketing channels.

Why is direct mail so effective for fundraising? Because a letter has both personal and emotional appeal. Fundraising campaigns have a story to tell and direct mail provides the perfect medium for conveying that story. People have substantially more patience for direct mail than they do for email, which gives you the time required to develop your story and engage them on an emotional level. What’s more, demographics that are the most likely to donate to causes they care about are often a bit more mature and often feel more comfortable with direct mail. To this audience, direct mail feels familiar and far safer than online solicitations.

If you think personalization is important for all direct marketing, you are absolutely right, but it is even more important in fundraising campaigns. If you are going to ask for people’s money, you have to show them respect. Nobody will donate to your cause if you can’t at least demonstrate that you know their name. Therefore, fundraisers need to take advantage of every possible personalization technique that they can. Include their name, (correctly spelled I might add), segment your campaigns based on past behavior, (Are they a new donor? Are they a regular donor?), and if they have donated before, make references to the nature of their previous donations. Take every opportunity to show that they really are important to you and your organization. Successful fundraising is all about building strong relationships, and direct mail offers all the tools you need.

Don’t underestimate the power of direct mail in creating lasting social change. If your business or organization is considering fundraising options, please contact US Data Corporation at to discuss how direct mail could boost your donations.

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