Electrifying Results: Fundraising Insights to Move the Needle for Your Nonprofit

Direct Mail is Easy, Right?


Photo by Howard Lake.

You stuff a bunch of envelopes with appeal letters, pledge cards and envelopes, mail them and wait for the money to come rolling in. What could be easier, right?

If only. . .

Of all the applied fundraising techniques—face-to-face, telephone, direct mail or special events—direct mail generates the lowest expected return. So why bother?

Simple. It is one of the best ways of acquiring new donors to your organization and is also a cheap way to renew donor support regularly. That said, without careful planning and testing, your letter may find its way to your donor’s circular file.

This is the first of four posts on direct mail, so here is our first tip for a successful direct mail appeal:

Take time to develop your prospect list.

Who are your obvious donors? Who else may be interested in supporting your organization’s mission? Who have you helped previously? Who is prominent within the community? Who are your local corporations, businesses and vendors? Who are the philanthropists who spread their wealth to many groups? Who are your organization’s neighbors?

Not all prospects are alike. Some give annually. Others have yet to give. Some crave recognition. Segment your list by what makes sense for your organization. It may be major donors, current donors and future donors. It may be individuals versus businesses. Either way, target your message to each segment (more on that in a later blog).

Keep in mind that more than 80 percent of your revenue will most likely come from major and current donors. While non-donors are needed to replace current donors whose giving drops off for various reasons, don’t expect to make money from a non-donor appeal. It is not unusual to spend $2 for every $1 produced by new donors.

AMPERAGE Fundraising Advisers is a full-service fundraising company whose mission is to move the needle for our clients. For more information on Amperage Fundraising Advisers or to make a recommendation for a future blog post, contact us today!