Trends in Direct Mail Fundraising Campaigns

Trent Johnson on August 8, 2018

In the age of social media and digital marketing, many people think of direct mail as a relic of a bygone era. With online giving platforms and software, why should you invest in a direct mail fundraising campaign?

The Current State of Direct Mail Fundraising

According to industry statistics, although people may claim to generally find direct mail marketing campaigns annoying, they still work. In fact, direct mail fundraising campaigns have been shown to drive digital donations, and it is actually a poor online user experience that is more likely to deter a donor from making a contribution to your cause or nonprofit organization. Not only do direct mail campaigns help to drive online donations and user engagement (assuming your website is doing its job), but the donor demographics might surprise you.

Direct Mail Fundraising in the Digital Era

Because direct mail is a more traditional, pre-internet age industry, it would be easy to assume that it is most effective with older generations of donors. But the truth is that millennials and Generation X members claim to donate online as a result of direct marketing in equal numbers, at roughly 50 percent. Baby boomers and members of the Greatest Generation say they are likely to donate online as a result of a direct mail campaign 26 percent and 14 percent of the time, respectively.

Rather than replacing traditional direct mail campaigns, online fundraising platforms and channels work in tandem with direct mail to create an effective fundraising and donation funnel. According to the Network for Good, small nonprofits in particular should take a layered approach to fundraising campaigns with direct mail and online channels by following a few basic steps:

  1. Invest in strong, solid data processing and management.
  2. Incorporate multiple platforms and channels in your calls to action, such as social media, email, landing pages and text messaging targeted to different audiences. For example, while millennials may be more responsive to communication and action through social media and text messaging, Generation X members are more likely to prefer emails, while baby boomers and their parents prefer phone calls.
  3. Tell a good story. Though the delivery methods and communication landscape may have changed with digital media and technology, the fundamentals of effective fundraising remain the same. People want to feel a personal connection with the causes and organizations they care about, and a compelling and human centered story is the best way to do that. Taking advantage of media like video can help to motivate donors to take action. Video is slated to account for a whopping 82 percent of internet traffic by 2020, so it will be your donors’ preferred medium for consuming information online.
  4. Just as more and more content is moving to video, more and more web traffic and transactions are performed on mobile devices (over 50 percent at the moment). That means that if your nonprofit website is not responsive to mobile devices, you are effectively cutting yourself off from a large segment of donors.

Why Use Direct Mail for Fundraising?

Simply put, direct mail marketing still works. It allows you to target and qualify leads and measure ROI in a way that other marketing tactics do not. But as technology and digital marketing continue to disrupt traditional industries, incorporating the best practices of both will ensure the most successful outcomes for your fundraising campaigns.