Three Ways Nonprofits Can Acquire Donors with Direct Mail
Nonprofits and direct mail have gone hand in hand for decades. From fundraising and appeal letters, to keeping your donors informed of what their donation dollars are paying for, there are countless ways print mail can help reach and retain new donors with every campaign.
There are a multitude of reasons for why direct mail has been the marketing gold standard for nonprofit organizations for over a century.
The power of direct mail comes from its personalization and impactful marketing. Unlike generic email or google ad campaigns, mailers can deliver personal, memorable messages directly to your intended audience.
What other marketing channel can compare to one with such a long and successful history?
Mail as a Fundraising Channel
While the origin of the first fundraising direct mail campaign is inconclusive, one significant milestone for the marketing channel was the foundation of the March of Dimes on January 3, 1938. Previously known as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, this charity’s aim was to find a cure for polio.
As the current U.S. President and founder of NFIP, Franklin D. Roosevelt spent several years during his time in office campaigning for a cure for this lifelong disease.
While previous fundraising attempts showed mild success, it was not until comedian Eddie Cantor that the NFIP gained its prestige as the March of Dimes.
During a mail-driven fundraising campaign, Cantor brought the term “The March of Dimes” into fruition as a play on the phrase “The March of Time” news broadcast. He urged audiences that if everyone donated at least one dime, a million people donating could add up to $100,000.
Cantor’s appeal worked. By the end of January, the White House received thousands of letters containing dimes totaling over $268,000. The money raised from this fundraising endeavor led to the discovery of the polio vaccine in the 50s, showing everyone the power direct mail had as a fundraising channel.
As the third largest private employer in the U.S. and with a contribution of $1.4 trillion to the economy, nonprofits continue to make a difference both in the lives of individuals they serve, as well as being a critical source of employment for Americans.
Despite their vast influence, nonprofits are arguably at the mercy of outside forces in the economy. As uncertainty and hardships often correlate to a fluctuation in donations at any given time, these organizations must plan carefully to ensure long-term success.
COVID-19’s Influence on Nonprofit Fundraising
While the complete ramifications of a worldwide pandemic are still being studied, the current data illustrates how non-profits were affected during this time. Surprisingly, these organizations saw an INCREASE of monthly donors at the start of April 2020, remaining consistent until April 2021.
However, this increase in donors did not hold up. The first quarter of 2022 saw a 2.3% year over year monetary increase in donations but suffered a 5.6% decrease in donors. This data implies that while charities are receiving larger donations, it is from a smaller pool of contributors.
The recent trend expanding across all U.S. charities seems to be a startling decrease in ‘small’ donor contributions, as the current YOY retention rate is a 6.2% decrease for 2022. While the charity may not be suffering in the present time, the lack of donor diversification may lead to further complications later on.
Related: Advertising Your Business During Times of Uncertainty
A Decrease in Donors
Public or nonprofit, relying too much on one branch of revenue adds unnecessary risk to your organization’s operations. Since nonprofit revenue relies on the whims of their fundraising contributions, adding more donors is necessary for survival.
Nonprofits must not only find a way to reach new donors, but also retain them. While a one-time monetary contribution makes a powerful impact, it is more efficient to have a continuous stream of donations from similar households.
If nonprofits could make a significant impact on their target audience by inspiring change, they could increase the likelihood that that individual will submit a donation every year.
How Can Direct Mail Help Nonprofits?
As technologies and communications improve over time, so too does the efficiency of the direct mail marketing channel.
- Personal & Authentic
As a nonprofit, you are not selling a product or service. You are inspiring your audience to take action within their local communities and make a change for the better. With such a goal in mind, it is important to personalize your mailers as much as possible to leave a powerful impression.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations hesitated to ask their audiences for contributions during this unprecedented time. However, those that did decide to use direct mail saw tremendous results.
Bethany Health Care Center is one such nonprofit. The organization used direct mail to connect with their donors by acknowledging the fears surrounding the uncertain future. They also took the time to inform their donors on how their residences were adjusting to the new social distance changes within their community.
By confiding in their donor’s concerns and providing them some assurance that their efforts are not going to waste, this health center was able to connect with their audience on an emotional and personal level.
Their appeal letter was highly successful. In just three weeks after its initial launch, the center surpassed their fundraising goal by 296% with the average donation priced at $141.69.
- Showing IMPACT
Donors like to see how their impact made a difference in the lives of others. Updating your donors on how their contributions have made -or will make- an impact is a great method to streamline a consistent channel of communication.
For example, Operation Smile’s direct mail letters included not only a fundraising letter, but a letter for the child the charity is assisting. The child’s letter included stickers and a place for the donor to sign their name.
This choice to include a letter and photo of the child showed potential donors the immediate impact their contribution would have on their community. By highlighting their positive impact, your nonprofit can encourage new donors to contribute and retain previous donors for many years to come.
Related: The Emotional IMPACT of Direct Mail Marketing
- Giving Gratitude
Staying in the forefront of your donor’s mind between the lulls of fundraising periods helps their recollection once your nonprofit launches their next campaign. Returning your donor’s generosity in the form of appreciation is a great option to connect with them in a personal way and keep them remembering you.
There are many ways one can show gratitude with direct mail. Sending personal thank you notes, holiday cards, and birthday wishes are all methods to raise awareness of your charity between the slower months. Every personalized letter or postcard will show your donors how much your charity values them and make them feel like part of the community.
Direct Mail with DK Solutions
While it is a great marketing channel, direct mail can quickly become overwhelming if your organization does not implement a proper strategy.
At DK Solutions, our TargetList methodology ensures that you reach the right prospects with every campaign.
Interested in launching your own unique direct mail campaign? Contact us today to learn more about how DK Solutions can help you and your organization. Find more information about the direct mail industry by visiting our FAQs or Blog.
We look forward to hearing from you soon!
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