The Importance of Direct Mail in Nonprofit Fundraising

May 18, 2021

At first glance, it may seem that merely adding a donate button to your website may be enough to garner financial support and call it a day. 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 is one of the most successful methods of fundraising for nonprofit organizations in the United States to date, especially if you want to directly pursue your members. Which, as you know, having supporters is an important part of fundraising. 

Furthermore, utilizing direct mail is a non-invasive way to call on your members to support your nonprofit. By implementing direct mail, you give your members a method of using their limited resources to benefit the overall goal of your organization. This allows your organization to actually interact with your donors, build long-term relationships, and give them a voice within the organization. 

If you’re ready to learn more about effectively garnering support for your organization, here are four reasons to incorporate direct mail into your overall nonprofit fundraising strategy:

1. Incorporating a more personal touch

When interacting with donors, a personal touch is immensely important for making them feel like they’re connected to your mission and their support is critical for your mission—which it is. One way to do this is by telling a story. 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 personal 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. Though some people may have heard this before, it’s a good idea to touch on things like the overall brand story, your personal influence behind your nonprofit, and constituent stories that showcase how transformative your organization is. 

Not only will this draw in your audience, but it also gives the donor an idea of where their money is going. You can even connect to your donors by sharing stories about things they are interested in to provide an even more personal connection with the reader. In order to do this effectively, be sure to conduct some preliminary research on your members’ own interests. This will give you the upper hand in gaining your donor’s attention, which will lead to a higher ROI overall. 

2. Targeting older generations of supporters

While some people may believe that the older your donors get, the less they are engaged, this is absolutely untrue. Instead, members who fall within older generations actually tend to contribute more to your organization in ways that are immensely meaningful. Thus, targeting older generations is crucial if your organization wants to maximize your direct mail campaign and other fundraising efforts.

Newfound retirees, for example, now have more time on their hands than ever before. This means you can (and should!) provide them with more opportunities to get involved in the work of your organization. By providing these new, unique opportunities, you are not only engaging these individuals in your organization, but also providing your organization with motivated members who want to get involved at a higher level than ever before. 

3. Keeping your organization at top-of-mind

One of the most sought-after commodities is your member’s engagement. They are being pulled left and right by competitors and other attractions—especially when it comes to online engagement. So how can you avoid this?

The most transformative way to keep your organization at top-of-mind is not by trying to sell your organization’s purpose to your members. Instead, you should try to engage with the members who already care about your organization and want to support your mission. 

In doing this, you must build your direct mail campaign so that it strategically aligns with your member’s ideals, and instantly “clicks” with what they are thinking about. When they care a great deal about your mission, they’re more likely to continue thinking about your organization long after your direct mailing has been opened and tossed aside.

4. Maximizing your fundraising ROI

When it comes to fundraising, investment always comes first. Generally speaking, the amount of money you invest will directly affect the amount of fundraising revenue you will bring in through your campaign. 

Direct mail fundraising does happen to be one of the pricier options: you have to purchase paper, ink, stamps, envelopes, etc. But that doesn’t mean it should be neglected as a fundraising strategy! After all, other engagement strategies (such as digital, specifically) might be cheaper—but they also have significantly lower results in terms of revenue collected.

Direct mail, on the other hand, has one of the highest ROIs of any fundraising channel, meaning it’s a fantastic choice to bring in multiple fundraising dollars for every investment dollar spent. And the best way to maximize that investment? Executing the request for donations perfectly. Learning how to ask for donations is crucial to executing a successful campaign and maximizing your initial investment. Backed by a powerful direct mail strategy, you’re sure to bring in the funding you need for your mission. 


All in all, direct mail has proven to be an effective method of raising money for your nonprofit if executed correctly. Incorporating methods like storytelling and personal connections can give you the upper hand when trying to draw the attention of your members, and strategically targeting certain demographics can be a great way to increase your impact. With all this in mind, direct mail can be a truly transformative method for keeping your mission in the minds of your supporters and maximizing the investment of your nonprofit fundraising endeavors.

Would YOU Be an Amazing JourneyCARE Guide?

Are you passionate about providing exceptional member care? Would you love to elevate your own organization’s ability to be consistent, automated, responsive, and engaging? Or perhaps you are a consultant or service provider who would benefit from getting your clients up and running with an amazing member care platform?

I’m currently looking for the first cohort of JourneyCARE Guides. JourneyCARE Guides will be deeply trained on the JourneyCARE platform, so that they can serve as a resource as we expand the number of organizations that are adopting the software. While there is no charge to participate in the training, there will be a time commitment involved and eligibility requirements that must be met.

If this sounds like something you’d potentially be interested in, please connect with me. The cohort will be launching soon. If you think you know someone who might be a good fit, feel free to pass this message along.

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Hey there.  I’m Joy Duling, Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.

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