3 Impactful Direct Mail Fundraising Trends for Nonprofits
As a nonprofit professional, you know that there are always new nonprofit marketing trends emerging. As the world of technology, social media apps, and influencers continues to evolve, these trends can take flight faster than ever.
While it’s easy to name the three new marketing trends you noticed on TikTok or Instagram this week, trends in more traditional marketing channels might not be at the top of your mind. But, keeping up with new trends and fresh ideas is necessary for every communication channel. By changing up pieces of your direct mail fundraising strategy, you can reduce donor fatigue and burnout.
These trends can help your nonprofit engage its existing donors and boost retention by creating a highly personal touchpoint that reflects donors’ values and preferences—like a passion for sustainability, for example. In this guide, we’ll explore three strategies you can use to put a new spin on your existing direct mail program.
One of the hallmarks of direct mail fundraising is its personal nature. Donors tend to feel more connected to your nonprofit when they are greeted by name through a tangible message that arrives in their mailbox. While social media posts and email messages could get lost in the crowded digital shuffle, direct mail gives each recipient something to hang on their fridge as a reminder to donate, volunteer, or attend fundraising events.
As technology and data analytics evolve, more nonprofits can add personalized elements to their direct mail. Here are some simple ways to make your direct mail campaigns more personal:
- Greet donors by name. Move away from generic greetings and use an individualized approach by using the donor’s name. Because this greeting is one of the first things donors will notice about your direct mail, it sets the tone for a more personal message.
- Highlight the donor’s impact. Pursuant’s guide to direct mail fundraising highlights the opportunity to personalize your messages by incorporating stories about your nonprofit and its beneficiaries that align with the donor’s interests. Make sure to highlight the specific ways their past and future contributions impact your cause.
- Consider donor levels. When you segment your donors by their giving level, you can create custom campaigns for each group. Your donors have varying giving capacities, and it’s important to ensure you’re asking for the proper amount from them. This can keep you from leaving funds on the table or requesting an amount that makes donors uncomfortable.
Since pieces of direct mail tend to be direct with minimal copy, your nonprofit can personalize them further by including QR codes for digital resources the donor would be interested in.
For example, you can segment new donors and send them direct mail with codes to an online welcome packet that gives them more information about your organization, programs, and cause. This is an effective way to integrate your direct mail and digital marketing strategies to increase touchpoints with donors.
2. Analyzing data.
With the rapid progress made in the world of tech and data, innovations like artificial intelligence are paving the way for new ways to market and fundraise. Data analytics tools are more commonplace and are widely accessible to nonprofits of all sizes. More and more organizations are able to leverage data analytics to get the most out of their marketing efforts, including their direct mail fundraising campaigns.
Because you need donor data to personalize communications, you might already be familiar with using data analytics to improve your marketing efforts. But, you can also use data to track and boost your direct mail fundraising progress.
Your organization can use data analytics to benefit your campaigns by:
- Tracking response rates to understand how relevant and engaging your direct mail is to donors.
- Determining the best times to send direct mail based on past campaign performance.
- Performing A/B testing to understand which appeals, trends, and strategies generate the most donor engagement.
- Referencing donors’ past involvement (like attending a volunteer event) and philanthropic interests in messages.
- Tailoring solicitations to donors based on factors like discretionary income, giving affinity, capacity to give, and more.
- Prioritizing fundraising and marketing efforts by measuring donors’ predicted lifetime value (their average annual donation total multiplied by the number of years they will contribute).
Leveraging this data can help your nonprofit measure its marketing ROI more accurately. With these concrete numbers, you can better define success, set realistic yet ambitious goals, and identify ways to maximize efficiency.
3. A focus on sustainability.
Across all industries, there has been a shift toward more sustainable practices. People are discussing the importance of sustainability more often, consumers and supporters are holding organizations and businesses accountable, and sustainable practices (like recycling and net-zero energy) are being normalized.
Your nonprofit can participate in this important change in many ways. For example, you might opt to use more sustainable fundraising ideas, like the shoe drive or tree planting day listed in Double the Donation’s list of fundraising ideas. On the other hand, you can also streamline your operations to limit waste, especially for things like print marketing which can contribute to paper waste.
Here are a few ways you can follow this trend toward sustainability:
- Use recycled materials. Recycled paper is often cheaper than non-recycled, and most people can’t tell the difference. Plus, recycled paper can help limit deforestation and conserve important resources like water and fuel.
- Reduce waste. With a focus on data, your nonprofit can better target donors who will engage with direct mail and respond by taking action. You can save time, resources, and money on printed goods by sending them out to donors who show interest in engaging with mail.
- Supplement efforts with digital channels. Your nonprofit doesn’t need to replace its direct mail fundraising efforts with a digital approach, but you can offer digital alternatives to supplement the strategy. Invite donors to subscribe to your digital newsletter, donate online, and view long-form content (like annual reports) on your website rather than via direct mail.
Many organizations switched to using postcard mailers. Postcards are very small and don’t require an envelope, reducing waste while saving your organization money. Making small adjustments like this, along with creative collaboration between your marketing and fundraising teams, can lead to more sustainable practices and extra wiggle room in your budget.
While direct mail fundraising has been around for decades, it’s important to remain up-to-date on trends and maintain a fresh, modern approach. By keeping up with new nonprofit marketing and advertising trends, your organization is more likely to meet donors’ needs and preferences, compete with what’s in their mailbox, and motivate them to take action in support of your cause.