A 2021 guide to nonprofit marketing.

A 2021 Guide to Nonprofit Marketing

Imagine this: Your nonprofit spends months planning the perfect fundraising event. You’ve gathered the resources, hired the catering, and recruited volunteers to pull it all together. A scattering of your most active supporters register, but you don’t get the turnout that you hope. This shortcoming is due to your nonprofit marketing. 

As a fundraising professional, you already know the importance of an effective marketing strategy. A comprehensive nonprofit marketing plan can spread awareness of your mission, deepen relationships with donors, help you engage with new prospects, and better align your team with your organization’s values and goals. 

However, every marketing effort has its challenges. Whether resources are tight, strategies aren’t garnering the needed results, or you just aren’t sure how to craft your next fundraising email, nonprofit marketing is no walk in the park.

You’ve come to the right place! During the past year, nonprofits have made tremendous efforts to digitize their communication strategies and increase convenience for their donors. In this 2021 guide to nonprofit marketing, you’ll learn more about:

Whether your organization is at the grassroots level or your nonprofit is more established, it’s always beneficial to ensure that your current marketing plan isn’t missing any essential elements. Let’s dive in with an overview of what nonprofit marketing is. 

Contact us to learn how the Google Ad Grant can help your nonprofit marketing.

What is nonprofit marketing?

What is Nonprofit Marketing?

Nonprofit marketing is the use of marketing tactics and strategies to amplify an organization’s cause and mission, solicit donations, and attract volunteers and supporters.

After you and your fundraising team work hard to plan out a campaign or set up an exciting fundraising event, the next step is getting supporters interested and invested. Without an effective marketing strategy, you won’t be able to grab your supporters’ attention, let alone meet new prospects. 

Effective nonprofit marketing is easier said than done, however. You need a carefully crafted plan with clear goals in mind and dedicated software solutions to carry them out. This level of thought and comprehensiveness in your nonprofit marketing can benefit you by:

These are the benefits of nonprofit marketing.

  • Raising mission awareness — One of the biggest roles of your nonprofit is to spread the word about your mission. Effective marketing will raise awareness of your mission, ensuring that people not only know your nonprofit goals, but also what you’re doing to achieve them. 
  • Increasing funds — This is an obvious one, but worth noting. When you’re able to market your nonprofit and raise awareness about your mission, the more potential funding you’ll receive. 
  • Driving long-term donor support — Nonprofits don’t just thrive with monetary funds, they need long-term support. Good marketing can build key relationships and result in more consistent and reliable donations, rather than one-off gifts. In fact, the average monthly online donation is $52 (which is a total of $624 per year) compared to the average one-time gift of $128.
  • Attracting all types of support — As you craft your nonprofit marketing strategy, you might be thinking that your main goal is to get donations. However, there’s an abundance of other types of support that your marketing can help with. This includes volunteer recruitment, fundraising events, membership programs, and other forms of support you may have. In fact, this can even lead to monetary gifts down the road. In fact, volunteers are twice as likely to donate as non-volunteers.
  • Promoting your services — What exactly does your organization do? How does it aim to impact your mission? Your nonprofit services are an integral part of your fundraising efforts and is inspire your supporters to give. With a comprehensive marketing plan, you can more effectively promote those services. 

But how can you utilize nonprofit marketing smartly and reap the above benefits? The answer: with a detailed and organized nonprofit marketing plan. 

How to create a nonprofit marketing plan.

Creating A Nonprofit Marketing Plan

If you want your donor outreach and communication strategy to be successful, it’s recommended to craft a dedicated nonprofit marketing plan. A nonprofit marketing plan is a comprehensive document that outlines all the information you need to meet your audience’s needs and spread your mission effectively.

Your nonprofit marketing plan will be unique to your goals, mission, and audience. However, you can take these general steps to ensure you’re not missing out on any essential elements:

  • Perform a marketing audit — It’s a good idea to get a sense of your current marketing standing and gather the resources you have. This way, you can start thinking about the changes and tweaks you’ll need to make. A marketing audit can consist of a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, data analysis of results, and then creating an action plan.
  • Define goals and mission — Your marketing plan shouldn’t just guide your actions, but really support your nonprofit journey to your ultimate goals. We recommend using the SMART (Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) method to create your marketing plan goals. Then, list your goals by priority. 
  • Understand your audience — It’s critical that your nonprofit marketing plan knows who it is trying to reach. You should outline both your current audience and your target audience. Further narrow down your audience with donor segments and donor personas. 
  • Craft your message — Your supporters are bombarded with online ads and companies trying to get their attention all of the time. It’s important that your marketing messaging stands out through the crowd. We recommend using the CRAM (connected to a cause, rewarding, actionable, memorable) rule to connect with donors. This is also where you’ll think about the language and tone of your message, the specific calls to action you’ll use, and any visual branding elements. 
  • Allocate budget — Marketing plans aren’t cheap. You need to create marketing materials, invest in online tools, and pay your hard working staff. As a general rule, it is advised that 5-15% of your operating budget is reserved for marketing. This is also when you might consider applying to nonprofit marketing grants.
  • Outline marketing channels — There are tons of marketing channels that you can choose from, and each has its own strengths and challenges. We’ll review the different types in the following section. 
  • Analyze performance — Every marketing plan needs a dedicated way to measure performance. Otherwise, how do you know if it worked or whether it needs to be improved for the future? Consider the metrics you want to track and the tools you’ll use. 

Crafting a comprehensive nonprofit marketing plan isn’t a small feat, but once you have one, this document can guide your team to its goals.

For more help, we advise you to visit our dedicated article on nonprofit marketing plans with free downloadable templates to keep you organized and on track. 

Explore these nonprofit marketing channels

Nonprofit Marketing Channels to Explore

The nonprofit marketing channels you use are incredibly important when it comes to effectively reaching your donors and meeting new prospects. With new tools making online communications easier and nonprofits leaders hosting elaborate fundraising events from the comforts of their own home, there are several valuable marketing channels.

Let’s walk through some of the most popular channels that can catapult your marketing efforts:

How does email marketing impact nonprofit marketing?

Email Marketing 

Email is an extremely reliable and comprehensive channel for nonprofit marketers because it allows you to connect with all types of supporters. From first-time donors to longtime major donors, fundraisers use email to send appreciation letters, event invitations, and regular newsletters with general organization updates.

Here are a few ways to leverage email marketing to reach all of your audiences:

  • Send a regular newsletter with your newest content, updates about your organization, industry data, and volunteer needs. 
  • Send monthly emails with donation needs and opportunities.
  • Segment your email audience based on common traits for more targeted and relevant messaging. Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue.
  • As soon as a donor gives, a volunteer participates, or some other form of support, send an email showing your appreciation. 

Email generates $42 for every $1 spent. With an ROI of 4,200%, it makes sense that this is a marketing channel worth investing in and taking the time to flesh out. 

How does direct mail impact nonprofit marketing?

Direct Mail

Many nonprofit marketers make the mistake of assuming that direct mail is dead. However, direct mail response rates actually hover between 5% and 9%. When compared to the email response rate of 1%, it’s clear why direct mail is still an incredibly valuable channel. 

For nonprofits, direct mail marketing and fundraising is the process of writing, printing, and sending out hard copy requests for funds, event invitations, or thank you letters to your passionate supporters. These letters arrive in your donors’ mailboxes and end up in their hands, providing a tangible connection to your organization — especially when compared to opening up an email.

If you want your direct mail content to hold genuine value and inspire action, here are some tips:

  • Lean on storytelling — Perhaps the most unique aspect of direct mail is the personal touch. This is a key opportunity to connect with donors through good storytelling. For example, you could describe a family that your nonprofit has helped to get readers invested in your cause and excited to give.
  • Connect copy with visuals — No one wants to read a huge wall of text. Make sure you incorporate visual and written elements together so that they support your call to action. Whether you use photos of real people or creative graphics to explain different points, the visuals you choose should be strategic and reinforce the messaging in your copy. Plus, a compelling photo can do wonders in enticing readers to internalize your mission. 
  • Combine direct mail with digital marketing — Direct mail marketing does best when it is combined with your other digital marketing efforts. For instance, make sure to include easy ways for direct mail readers to connect online if they’d like. You might include a QR code within the letter directing supporters to your online donation page. Or, you can include social media information to encourage engagement on a different platform. 

Direct mail can benefit both your nonprofit and show donors that you really care. Make sure to check your recipient’s communication preference before sending out letters willy nilly, however. Plus, consider partnering with a direct mail marketing company to make the process of writing, stuffing, and sending your letters easier. 

Explore how event marketing can support your nonprofit marketing.

Event Marketing

One of the most engaging and fun ways to market your mission to supporters and gain some beneficial press coverage is with a nonprofit fundraising event!

From charity marathons to fundraising auctions to fancy galas, there are a number of different nonprofit events that you might host. Not only do you raise a good amount of funds, but you’ll also have the opportunity to connect with your community in-person (or virtually) on a more personal level.

Here’s how you can take your nonprofit event to the next level and market your mission effectively:

  • Have consistent branding on digital and physical event materials.
  • Advertise mission on event signage, both digital and physical.
  • Provide easy ways to give or connect after the event, like a text fundraising phone number.
  • Send an event thank you letter as soon as it is over.
  • Provide free or sell branded event merchandise so that attendees can continue to promote your mission.

Nonprofit events provide invaluable opportunities to engage your donors in unique ways and promote your mission memorably. Make sure you’re making the most of this marketing channel. 

How does video marketing impact nonprofit marketing?

Video Marketing

Video marketing has been exponentially growing in popularity, and for good reason, too. From short videos on TikTok to longer content on Youtube, many nonprofits have found success in using this form of media to promote campaigns, events, and their mission in general.

Why is this? Well, here are some reasons why video marketing is so valuable:

  • Easy to process — Humans process visual content 60,000 times faster than text. This is why it’s so great for educating your audience or explaining a point. 
  • Inspire action — Videos are known to do really well when it comes to inspiring emotions. This is much harder to emulate with just a photo or a paragraph. 
  • Shareable — Who hasn’t gotten a cute video of a pet sent from a friend? In fact, 92% of consumers on mobile will share videos with others. 
  • Entertaining 60% of people report that video is a media they consume thoroughly, unlike images which are easy to flip through. 

Some popular ways to use video marketing are within your nonprofit website, in social media posts, and in email content! Send out an event invitation with a video teaser or record a video of a community member your nonprofit has helped to show donors just how much they’ve made an impact. 

Bonus Tip! Because of their file format, videos can potentially slow down a website. We recommend turning off auto-play to prevent this from happening!

Social media and nonprofit marketing.

Social Media

In 2020, there were 3.96 billion people actively using social media in the world, which is an increase of 10.9% from 3.48 billion in 2019. It’s no surprise that this is one of the most viable and successful ways to reach supporters and market your mission.

Not only is social media free, but it’s also a key way to connect with supporters on a deeper level. You can engage with followers, encourage them to comment or repost, and build a brand personality that supporters want to keep coming back to. 

While this will depend on the social media platform you use, here are some general ways you can leverage this type of online engagement:

  • Share news about your organization and cause.
  • Boost brand awareness and recognition.
  • Post calls-to-action for online gifts, event registrations, volunteer signups, and more.
  • Recruit volunteers and employees.
  • Announce appreciation to donors, employees, and volunteers.

Whether you use Twitter for its short-form posts and shareability or  Facebook for its pages and peer-to-peer fundraising features, social media is definitely a channel you should spend a good amount of time thinking about. 

How does your nonprofit website impact marketing?

Website

Your website is a huge resource when it comes to marketing your mission. It’s likely the first place prospects go to learn about your mission and where long-term supporters go to give support. It not only hosts valuable information on your organization but also provides engagement opportunities like online giving, event registration, and more.

When designing or optimizing your nonprofit website, keep these tips in mind:

  • Ensure full and regulatory accessibility compliance with the WCAG and ADA.
  • Liberally use calls-to-action buttons and links to direct users to your popular landing pages.
  • Keep user experience in mind when it comes to ease of use and navigation.
  • Make sure all tools and content management systems are functioning properly and are updated.
  • Have consistent branding throughout the site.

It’s important to remember just how much your website does. Not only do you use it to collect online gifts, but it’s also where supporters learn about your mission, get inspired through its online content. Essentially, your website is the accumulation of all of your marketing efforts in one platform. 

Thus, making sure your website is optimized and functioning well is essential if you want your nonprofit marketing to be successful. 

How can content marketing help nonprofit marketing?

Content Marketing

Content marketing is all about creating valuable and promotable nonprofit content that can build your nonprofit brand and reputation in the sector. This content will likely live on your website, but you can also create specific content to email or host a downloadable or gated resource. 

Here are the type of content you might create:

  • Educational content about your mission, cause, and industry news and trends.
  • SEO optimized blog content to get your online content ranking higher in search engines.
  • Easily shareable content that encourages your audience to send it along to their friends.
  • Content that is easily repurposable, like a downloadable resource into an email message!

Plus, your content marketing materials can be used for future marketing efforts, whether it’s for email or social media. Consider creating a dedicated team focused on content copywriting.

Use text message in your nonprofit marketing.

Text Message

With a 98% open rate, text message marketing is one of the best ways to promote a campaign and reach your audience where they already are. 

To use text marketing, it’s recommended to invest in a comprehensive text giving tool. This not only allows you to send outbound messages but also empowers donors to give by text as well! This is a powerful way to leverage contextual giving.

Contextual giving is a donation given at the moment when the donor was inspired in the first place. For instance, let’s say a prospect stumbles upon an in-person fundraising event and is inspired by the turnout and the mission. They see the phone number plastered on event signage and decide to text it to give a gift. If you didn’t have text giving, they might have waited until they got home to give, which at that point was too late. 

Use text marketing to announce events, send urgent appeals (remember to include instructions for donating!), remind volunteers about upcoming shifts or training, and promote donations throughout your campaign or specific event. And, you can do all of this with your text giving tool.

How can the Google Ad Grant help your nonprofit marketing?

Google Ad Grants

A popular way that nonprofits expand their marketing is with Google Ads, a platform where organizations display advertisements, services offerings, products, and other marketing content. Google places these ads strategically in the search engine result pages as well as non-search websites, mobile apps, and videos. 

This is why many nonprofits will apply for the Google Ad Grant, a program that offers nonprofit professionals $10,000 in ad credits to spend each month. This is an incredible opportunity to not only expand your marketing strategy but do it all without pushing your budget.

The best part? Any nonprofit that is eligible and complies with Google guidelines can use this grant. 

Interested in learning more about how to apply and manage the Google Ad Grant? Explore our dedicated article about applying for the grant here. 

Contact us to learn how the Google Ad Grant can help your nonprofit marketing.

 

The number of marketing channels you can use to reach donors these days seems to be never-ending — we only listed the most popular ones! The good thing is you don’t need to leverage each one for your marketing campaign to be successful. 

Choose a couple of key channels, and then take a multi-channel marketing approach to reach your donors at multiple touchpoints. This is the best way to build meaningful relationships and successfully spread awareness of your mission. 

Follow these nonprofit marketing best practices.

Follow These Nonprofit Marketing Best Practices

When it comes to your nonprofit marketing, there are a lot of moving components that you have to keep in mind. From how to craft your messaging to the strategies and channels you use, there’s quite a bit to juggle.

To keep your marketing team organized, here are some general best practices that can help any fundraising team hone their marketing:

  • Understand your audience. Every marketing campaign should have a target audience in mind. Knowing what demographic group or type of supporter you are trying to reach will inform every step of your nonprofit marketing plan.
  • Have a goal. Are you trying to raise money or awareness? Encourage volunteering? Garner registrations for a fundraising event? Every marketing campaign needs a concrete goal and target action in order to be successful.
  • Make it personal. It’s much easier for people to relate to other individuals than broad generalized groups. Make sure your marketing efforts feel personal enough to connect with donors emotionally and inspire them to take action.
  • Segment your list. We mentioned this already, but segmenting your marketing audience is critical. After all, people will respond best to communications that are targeted to their needs, goals, and preferences.
  • Use current events. A good way to bolster your nonprofit marketing is to use what is currently going on in the world as a way to create urgency. Is there a story related to your cause in the news? For instance, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many nonprofits took the time to connect their mission to this broader world issue and leverage that public awareness.
  • Follow up with donors and volunteers. For a successful nonprofit marketing campaign, you don’t just send out materials and communications and be done with it. Marketing isn’t just to promote your nonprofit services but to build ongoing relationships with supporters. Make sure you have a system in place to check in with current donors or volunteers, as well as follow up with any lapsed supporters to ensure they stay active.
  • Track your data. Data is the backbone of your nonprofit marketing efforts. Not only is it tracked to ensure that your campaign is performing positively and creating genuine benefits, but it can also be used to improve future campaigns or act as a resource for supporters wanting to learn more about your nonprofit efforts. In the end, your nonprofit data can be just as valuable as a marketing asset as your email!

The fundraising landscape seems to change year by year, so keeping up with nonprofit marketing best practices and trends is critical. With digital innovations making it easier to connect with donors and new tools increasing the types of support you can utilize, you have to remember that your supporters’ needs are a priority. Without them, your nonprofit cannot make as meaningful of an impact in your community. 

Additional Resources

How can you continue to kick start your nonprofit marketing efforts and drive even more conversions for your organization? Explore these additional resources to continue your research:

How can Getting attention help your nonprofit marketing? With the google ad grant!

Leveraging Direct Mail for Your Annual Fund Campaign: 5 Tips

Launching your annual fund campaign is a critical task for nonprofits, and it is important to get the most out of your efforts to best pursue your mission. In order to fulfill your needs, it’s a good idea to leverage effective planning and promotion strategies to get the word out far and wide.

And how can you do that? We suggest direct mail.

Adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for all sorts of organizations, yet we know that your mission needs support now more than ever.

At GivingMail, we work to provide a simple and affordable way for nonprofits to build relationships with supporters and fund their causes. We’ve seen the power of direct mail firsthand, and we believe that it has the potential to make a difference in your annual campaign. 

Specifically, these five tips can help maximize the impact of your fundraising dollars and bring in more revenue for your annual fund:

  1. Launch a marketing campaign ahead of time
  2. Seek out a fundraising consultant
  3. Target existing and repeat donors
  4. Incorporate data-driven strategies
  5. Work with a direct mail partner

Ready to dive into each of these nonprofit fundraising tips and discover the power of direct mail for an annual campaign? Let’s get started.

1. Launch a marketing campaign ahead of time

Your nonprofit marketing strategies can make or break your annual campaign’s potential net donations. Marketing to get the word out prior to your annual campaign is a valuable strategy that can serve both immediate and long-term needs well. 

Ensuring that people know about your organization and its mission prior to receiving your largest asks will help people recognize you by name and make it more that they’ll contribute. However, the message should be clear, explaining the reason behind your cause and that a more significant appeal is coming.

This way, you can give supporters a taste of what they are going to support and hopefully excite them to donate when the time comes for your large-scale annual mailing.

2. Seek out a fundraising consultant

If you’re looking to maximize the ROI (or return on investment) of your annual fund campaign, we recommend seeking a nonprofit consultant. After all, fundraising consultants provide unique expertise and can help guide your campaign in the right direction—especially if you’re not sure where to start. 

The right fundraising consultants are not only good at helping you accomplish what you need, but they can also help you discover what exactly it is that you do need. These professionals are well-versed in giving tendencies and understanding which recipients are most likely to donate to your cause. 

Each segment of your audience has different things that are important to them, and your donors will respond better to your mailing if your messaging specifically appeals to their wants and needs. However, it can be difficult to make sure your appeals are carefully crafted with the intended recipient in mind—which is where your consultant comes in.

Decisions like these can grow the potential your mailing has of bringing in the most amount of donations possible. Not to mention, it certainly won’t be their first experience with an annual fund campaign.

3. Target existing and repeat donors

One-off donations can be great for certain causes. However, for long-term success, repeat donors provide more sustainability and reliability. For a successful annual fund campaign, we recommend largely targeting existing supporters.

It’s also cheaper to retain an existing donor than it is to constantly seek one-time donations. That means that existing supporters often make the best contributors for annual campaigns because of their tendency to show continued support. After all, repeat donors have shown their desire to be a part of your organization and its mission. 

To keep repeat donors on board, however, it’s critical that you provide a streamlined giving process and effectively communicate a donor’s impact. When contributing is simple and they understand how their gifts are being used, they’re more likely to give time and time again.

4. Incorporate data-driven strategies

Your fundraising data is a vital resource in determining the best ways to maximize your ROI. It also allows you to track the performance of your direct mail appeals and other fundraising asks, and to think of new ways to produce the best possible results.

Even better, data-driven strategies are great for segmenting your audience and making the most of each piece of mail you send. A great way to do this is to use a donor management software or CRM

These process your donors’ information and help you manage their preferences, contact information, and engagement history to personalize your outreach and make donors feel like valued members of your organization. This way, you can determine what works best for you and your particular audience, and in what areas there is room for improvement. 

5. Work with a direct mail partner

While direct mail is one of the most profitable fundraising channels available, it’s also one that can take a great deal of time and effort to pull off successfully. Working with a direct mail partner is a huge asset in terms of maximizing donations and reallocating resources. 

These companies can help you design, produce, and manufacture your direct mail appeals to send for your annual campaign. They have tested their products time and time again and are your best bet for maximizing your ROI.

Effective mailing partners can teach you some very important strategies to boost your donations and provide an easy-to-use platform to streamline the entire process. For example, grabbing your supporters’ attention through the expertise of your partner is a huge step in the right direction in terms of getting a contribution.


All in all, effective direct mail strategies have the potential to bring your annual fund campaign to the next level. By increasing your marketing efforts, targeting dedicated supporters, and leveraging previously collected fundraising data to improve your fundraising, you’ll be well on your way to a successful campaign. 

Plus, don’t forget to reach out to the experts for assistance if you’re not sure where to start—whether that’s a nonprofit fundraising consultant or a direct mail partner. Good luck and happy fundraising!

Is Direct Mail Dead? Here’s Why Fundraising Experts Say No

In today’s society, digital communications have become the norm. This doesn’t mean that direct mail is dead! Nonprofits looking to stand out from their competition incorporate both virtual and direct mail marketing into their strategies. 

When you implement direct mail marketing, your team is sending a fundraising appeal to a potential or existing supporter’s mailbox. These are effective for asking for a donation, announcing an event, or reporting on progress toward your goal.

Our GivingMail nonprofit fundraising overview confirms that physical mail should be a main component of your multi-channel marketing strategy. The biggest benefit of sending a letter is the chance to motivate donors with a story about your cause. If your team is still on the fence about sending direct mail, consider the following facts:

  • Direct mail can have a median ROI of 29%. 
  • People remember print better than digital communications. 
  • Direct mail can be combined with digital strategies. 
  • 70% of donors feel more valued with direct mail. 

With this compelling information, your team has all of the right reasons to implement direct mail into your next fundraising strategy. Let’s dive in!

Direct mail can have a median ROI of 29%. (source)

Direct mail is absolutely worth it when you use it as a working part of a well-defined marketing strategy—especially when you consider it has one of the highest ROI of any fundraising channel..

Your ROI relies on the effectiveness of your messaging, so write your mailers with specific goals in mind. Think of how your wording can raise brand and campaign awareness. Try incorporating these tips into your writing:

Send it to the right people. 

Foremost, your letters should be going to the donor segments that are inclined to respond well to your letter. To start this process, you should segment your audience using your donor’s data, paying attention to those who want to receive direct mail vs. those who don’t. You don’t want to waste time and money sending materials to people who are not likely to engage with your appeal.

Hook your reader from the start. 

The opening lines of your fundraising letter will make the difference in whether it’s read or not. In choosing a hook, try catering to your reader’s interests and concerns. Use compelling language and create interest surrounding your topic. Depending on your mission, you’ll be able to open with a line such as:

  • A moving statistic
  • A call to action
  • A question
  • An anecdote

With these, you’ll grab your audience from the start, and increase the chances they’ll want to find out more about your cause and even contribute their own hard-earned dollars.

Speak directly to your reader. 

Focusing on your reader can help increase their likelihood to participate in your cause. Write directly to the recipient and explain why you’re choosing them to be your audience and how their participation can benefit them. Include details about volunteering and giving opportunities and how they can be the hero of your campaign. 

Effectively writing to your reader will involve including inclusive language such as “you”, or “our”. For example, write: “Your support has helped feed X families in need,” rather than “The organization has fed X families in need.” The personal approach is always the more effective option when calling readers to action.

End with a clear call to action. 

Make the point of your letter obvious to readers. Don’t be afraid of conversational calls to action, such as, “What does this mean for you?” or “Here’s how you can get involved.” They’ll feel inclined to help out, and it’ll feel natural and conversational rather than formal. Be sure to include resources for how to give and get involved, and offer a method of contact for questions and concerns they may have after reading your letter.

Speaking to your reader as though they’re the hero of your mission will go a long way in increasing your mail’s ROI. Be sure to make your hook and purpose clear to increased readership and success. For more information on writing for specific campaigns, check out this in-depth fundraising letters template library for your needs. 

People remember print better than digital communications. 

If you need another compelling reason to incorporate mailers into your communication strategy, consider that a study found recall for print advertisements is 70% higher than digital

This recall can benefit your organization by leveraging brand awareness in your community. When your readers recall your organization’s name or logo after seeing it in their mail, this creates an association in their mind. Then, when they see your logo or name as a sponsor of an event or on their social media feed, they’ll recognize you!

For example, if someone reads about your upcoming event in a mailer, then sees an advertisement for it on Facebook, they’ll be more likely to remember the event as they run across it later. This simple association can turn a reader into an active participant in your organization.

GivingMail’s guide to direct mail for nonprofit organizations further explains how to create a physical mailer that will efficiently stick in the minds of your readers. Remember, creating a lasting impression with your letter involves tactful visual components as well as effective wording. However, this doesn’t mean you should rely only on direct mail but rather that you should use it in support of your marketing strategy overall. 

Direct mail can be combined with digital strategies. 

As mentioned before, you can absolutely ask for donations with direct mail fundraising appeals. However, you should also combine your approach and support digital appeals with your direct mail for a well-rounded communication strategy.

In asking for donations in your campaign overall, have one streamlined call to action across every platform so as to not muddle your ask, as well as create a repetitive recall in your reader’s minds when they see your deliverables. This guide suggests  that you use a combination of platforms such as:

  • Email
  • Telemarketing
  • Social media platforms 
  • Websites

All in all, it’s a fantastic idea to support your digital fundraisers with direct mail marketing. And, in turn, to support your donation request letter with digital marketing strategies. This multi-channel approach will ensure more people read your message, increasing your impact. 

70% of donors feel more valued with direct mail. (source

Finally, when direct mail is done well with personalized introductions, well-constructed appeals, and information leveraged from your CRM, you have the potential to show that you care about your supporters for more than their wallets. This helps build your donor relationships and can result in higher donor retention rates. Here’s how:

  • People experience tons of digital marketing. However, the mail someone receives will be paid attention to, as they go through it on a daily basis. 
  • It’s more personalized. Sure, digital marketing costs money to run, but a physical mailer provides value as well. It communicates that the recipient is valued enough to be sent a physical item that costs your organization ink, paper, and postage.

You care about your supporters, and they’ll feel this sentiment when you go the extra mile to mail a letter to their home!


Direct mail surely isn’t dead. Your organization should take advantage of the benefits of sending a mailer. You’ll be sure to stand out from the clutter of digital promotions, effectively communicate your message in a personal way, and help supplement your overall marketing efforts. Get to writing, so that your mission can gain support in a whole new way!

3 Reasons to Include Direct Mail in Your Marketing Strategy

Initially, you may think that simply asking your donors to support your cause will be enough to reach your fundraising goals. However, in order to truly maximize your fundraising efforts and better engage with the individuals who help fund your mission, direct mail marketing is an immensely transformative option. 

Direct mail appeals are the backbone of communication and fundraising for most nonprofits in the US, and it can be a great way to engage with supporters in a more personal way.

Overall, direct mail is a tried and true method of fundraising for nonprofit organizations, but if you’re still on the fence, here are three reasons to include direct mail in your marketing strategy: 

  1. It has a high ROI for your marketing dollars
  2. It provides an opportunity for powerful storytelling
  3. It pairs well with fundraising opportunities

Now, let’s get into those convincing reasons why you should include direct mail in your fundraising strategy. 

1. Direct mail has a high ROI for your marketing dollars

To put things is in perspective, if you implement direct mail into your campaign strategy, you typically yield a 28% higher conversion rate than a single fundraising channel alone. Direct mail has one of the highest ROI as compared to any other fundraising channels. Therefore, you shouldn’t be hesitant in your choice to implement direct mail strategies because the money you spend on marketing will be made back multiple times over in fundraising revenue. 

In addition to a higher ROI, if executed successfully, direct mail accounts for over 90% of direct response revenue to charities. Furthermore, direct mail’s ability for personalization has the potential to draw your donors in like never before. With more engagement from your donors through direct mail, your marketing campaigns have the potential to garner long-term support and a higher ROI in the long run. 

Overall, direct mail is one of the most transformational tools to implement into your marketing campaign. If you feel that your nonprofit doesn’t have the funds to utilize direct mail, be sure to carefully look over your budget plan for your nonprofit and make note of areas you can reallocate to your marketing dollars. All in all, direct mail is actually an immensely cost-effective strategy that will pay for itself if executed successfully. 

2. Direct mail provides an opportunity for powerful storytelling

As mentioned prior, direct mail provides for more opportunities to personalize your tasks. One way to create a personal and engaging ask is by incorporating storytelling strategies into your fundraising campaign. Stories appeal to the emotional quotient of your members by giving them more to grasp, rather than just a piece of mail. After all, people remember stories way more than they remember facts and figures.

There are many ways to tell a story that effectively appeals to your audience. One way to do so is simply by sharing the history of your nonprofit organization. For example, you can touch on things like the overall brand story, your personal influence behind your nonprofit, and constituent stories that showcase how transformative your organization is. 

Just make sure that when you do share constituent, case studies, and other success stories, you do so in a way that is well-thought-out and ethical. For example, ethical stories take the protagonist’s feelings into consideration, shape the stories in a way that maintains dignity and respect, and does so in a transparent and honest way. 

3. Direct mail pairs well with fundraising opportunities

Not only is direct mail a powerful marketing and fundraising strategy on its own, but it also pairs well with a number of other digital and face-to-face methods as well.

In this case, incorporating a multichannel approach leads to more touchpoints overall. And with more touchpoints, comes more donations! Furthermore, incorporating a multichannel approach will lead to a higher engagement overall between campaigns. This occurs because more channels lead to more encounters with your supporters on multiple platforms. After all, if your donors think about your organization more often, they will likely want to donate more frequently and more generously. 

One example of incorporating direct mail with other channels includes bringing more traffic to your website, alongside your direct mail campaign. To do this, integrate your direct mail and digital strategies by including the URL or QR code driving donors to your online donation page in your direct mailings. Or, you can even include your dedicated mobile giving number and specific trigger words so that donors can quickly and easily text in their gifts!


All in all, direct mail is an immensely transformative tool to implement within your marketing strategy. When you integrate this powerful channel alongside your current marketing strategy, you get to reap benefits such as an increased ROI, powerful storytelling opportunities, and integrated fundraising campaigns. Good luck!

This guest post was contributed by Grant Cobb at GivingMail.

Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years 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.

Direct Mail Reality Check: Outakes from Fundraising Day in New York

Here are some very interesting tips from folks who do direct mail 24/7 and shared their expertise at a recent session at Fundraising Day in New York (remember, this work is 99% fundraising). But I gotta say, I was shocked by the bubble some of these experts are trapped in; read on for details:

  • How much you say depends on who you’re reaching
    • Prospects respond better to longer (4pp.) letters
    • While in-house lists (current donors) prefer a shorter letter (2pp.)
  • People assume you’re customizing the letter to them
    • So it’s not always necessary to explicate that
    • Members who received mailings for an annual fund campaign responded at a higher rate to the test that didn’t address them as members, or refer to their membership at all.
  • Be as tangible as possible for higher impact
    • A fundraising mailing that featured a ribbon drew much better when a real cloth ribbon, rather than a ribbon sticker, was used.
  • Too much nitty-gritty can depress response
    • When the Special Olympics(SO) integrated testimonials from the families of its atheletes, response rate fell
    • My guess: Perhaps SO’s current direct mail donor base (60+) doesn’t want to hear the truth. The rest of us crave it. And so will we when we get older. Look alive, direct mailers.
  • Companion emails increase response to direct mail by 12%, especially when the ask in is the first two paragraphs of the email
    • This is no surprise to those of us immersed in integrated marketing, but most of the speakers (and listeners) at FRDNY are all mail, all the time.
  • Authenticity rules — handwritten cards (real, not printed handwriting) work

All useful to know. But here’s what really startled me. When I asked the panel of three direct mail experts why they’re focusing only on folks 60+, they stared at me like I was crazy. The universal response was that the other prospects were handled by other parts of the organization (online only), and that they don’t give much. What about shepherding folks teens up into supporting nonprofits in all ways? What about people now 60 who’ve been using the Web for 15 years? What about all those confused audiences who are getting snail mail and email that are completely uncoordinated?

Wake up, direct mailers, and break out of your bubble.

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