Making Direct Mail Work for Nonprofits

Making Direct Mail Work for Nonprofits

Direct mail is a simple method of mailing an informational piece, sometimes accompanied by an appeal for a contribution, to a list of qualified supporters.

A lot of nonprofits use direct mail to raise their funds.

Direct mail is sent to donors with an aim of providing a physical connection with the organization.

Since most organizations have moved to the digital space, it might seem that direct mail is not that effective anymore.

The effectiveness of direct mail lies in the fact that it can target exactly the people who are interested in the organization.


Every year, the response rate of direct mail is increasing.

According to a survey, 41% of Americans check their mailboxes everyday. Direct mail still has a profound impact.

For purchase decisions, 31% of baby boomers prefer direct mail over other channels of communication. It is evident that direct mail generates a good response rate.

A large number of people are also concerned about cybersecurity, for them direct mail appears to be safe. This makes direct mail worth the investment. Given below are elements of direct mail that would help a nonprofit to motivate support for its organization.


The mail should create a personal connection between the organization and the reader. It should speak in the reader’s language and make it clear to them that the organization is writing directly to them, the organization knows who they are, and have them in mind.

The organization should know what is important for the reader and refer to it in the mail. Let the mail teach the reader things that they will care about. Statistics should be used sparingly to illustrate the scope of the problem and the urgency of the need.

Facts can also be used as tools to present the scope of the problem and illustrate the ways by which a nonprofit wants to provide the solution.

The reader should feel that they are a potential partner in the cause.

For instance, Operation Smile’s direct mail includes a convincing letter with quaint stickers and messages. The content effectively shows how the reader can make an impact.

The Envelope

A lot of direct mail ends up getting thrown away unopened. Even if the material inside is designed brilliantly it will be of no importance if the recipient doesn’t read it.

The first step is to give the envelope the chance of surviving the selection process.

The envelope has to stand out from the piles of letters, magazines, and bills and be noticed. For instance, The New York City Rescue Mission uses envelopes that look like miniature brown grocery bags.

One side of the envelope carries an intriguing message with a compelling headline like, “ There’s a complete Thanksgiving dinner in this little bag!”

The Letter

The letter should catch the reader’s attention in the first few seconds. The opening sentence has to pull the reader in.

A lot of thought and creativity should go into crafting the letter. Personalization is an essential characteristic of direct mail.

When a reader opens the envelope, their name should be immediately visible. The letter should have three parts, the opening, the argument, and the call to action.