Fundraisers are making a mistake by overlooking the value of direct mail

A lot of credit is given these days to the value of online fundraising tools. Social media and mobile technologies have given nonprofits a quick and affordable way to extend fundraising efforts beyond their immediate area, all the while reaching out to prospective donors and collecting contributions. However, there is still something to be said of the usefulness of direct mail.

In a 2013 study from the Direct Marketing Association, researchers discovered that offline mediums, such as direct mail, made up more than $90 billion of the $155 billion industry, demonstrating not only the importance of the medium, but also the versatility, AdSoft Direct reported. To remain so viable in an increasingly technological world is a testament to the overall value of direct mail, and the reason why charitable organizations should be incorporating the strategy into future fundraising campaigns. 

To successfully leverage direct mail into fundraising dollars, nonprofits should be sure to:

Focus on the letter
There are some particularly generous people who go out of their way to find organizations worthy of their philanthropy, but for the most contributors, it's up to the nonprofit to pique their interest. According to The Fundraising Authority, an online resource for charities, there are two keys to crafting a successful fundraising pitch:

1. Be compelling
2. Be succinct.

If you want people to donate to your cause, you're going to have to appeal to their emotional side. Stay away from heavily quoting statistics or listing off facts. You'd be better off just sending a blank donation form. Instead, use direct mail as an opportunity to tell the story of your nonprofit: your backstory, your mission and your successes.

The second step in creating an effective fundraising letter is writing something people want to read. Of course, that will depend heavily on the content, but readability is also influenced by the text's format. People like to skim, so with that in mind, structure your letter into easily digestible bits, something that a reader can look over quickly without losing the message.

Strengthen relationships
Nonprofits are driven largely by donations. No matter the size, charities are happy to benefit from an individual's philanthropy. However, the true lifeblood of a sustainable organization is long-term donors. Direct mail is another channel that nonprofits can use to connect with donors to solicit donations, but also to thank contributors for their help, keep them informed of upcoming events and advertise the good work your group is doing. Direct mail can also be paired with other fundraising mediums, such as social media, where organizations can gather personal insights to help in crafting more targeted mail pieces or promote online activities. You can even include a QR code to direct mobile donors to online donation forms.

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