Direct Mail Response Rate for Nonprofits (and How to Boost Yours)

For decades, nonprofit organizations have used direct mail campaigns to raise funds, communicate with donors, and promote their causes. Now, with the increasing popularity of web-based advertising methods, you may think direct mail has fallen by the wayside—but that’s not the case.

Instead, the success rate of direct mail campaigns has skyrocketed, cutting through the digital clutter to give recipients a tangible reminder of a nonprofit’s mission.

“-the success rate of direct mail campaigns has skyrocketed

By using modern direct mail techniques, you can make sure your next direct mail campaign is more effective than ever.

What Is Direct Mail?

Direct mail is a marketing strategy that can help your organization reach new donors, launch a new fundraising campaign, or spread the word about your nonprofit.

As part of a direct mail campaign, an organization sends printed materials such as postcards, letters, flyers, or catalogs to a list of supporters. These items arrive in their mailboxes, giving them a physical connection to your nonprofit and mission.

Fundraising organizations like nonprofits, schools, and museums need to take advantage of direct mail fundraising and communication opportunities.

Direct Mail Response Rates for Nonprofits

Direct mail campaigns can take many forms and serve different purposes—which means your response rate will depend on a variety of metrics your organization needs to establish.

How you measure success is based on the goals of your campaign. For example, if you are promoting a fundraising gala, you may aim for a specific percentage of recipients to attend the event. On the other hand, if your goal is simply to raise awareness about a cause, it’s more difficult to get an accurate measurement.

When implemented as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy, direct mail is an invaluable fundraising option.

How to Improve Your Direct Mail Response Rates

Follow these tips to make the most of any nonprofit direct mail campaign.

Track Your Direct Mail Campaign

Industry-leading direct mail printing companies have the ability to track every step of your campaigns. You can, for example, include a phone number, QR code, URL, or email address unique to the campaign to determine which pieces of mail generated the most clicks or calls.

Set Goals and Measure Impact

Every nonprofit direct mail campaign needs to define a goal and establish tools or best practices to assess progress toward that goal. Analyzing results from different versions of direct mail campaigns gives you the ability to support materials that worked well and tweak those that weren’t as successful.

Know Your Audience and Tailor Your Content

It’s important to identify and segment your audience so you can tailor your direct mail materials to specific groups. Once you’ve categorized your recipients, you can catch their attention with highly targeted content.

For example, you likely have a relationship with longtime donors, so you can use a more friendly, familial tone in your direct mail materials. Similarly, new volunteers may want information on the basics of the cause and how to join the organization. Each audience group has its own preferences, and a successful direct mail campaign will take advantage of that fact.

Choose Compelling Visuals and Design Elements

Visuals and copy go hand in hand. To create an effective appeal, you need to make sure both design elements and written content interact in a cohesive way.

Add compelling photographs, include design elements, and emphasize your brand. Don’t forget to customize the outside of your envelopes, too.

United GMG Non-Profit Appeals Package

Include a Clear Message and CTA

If your organization’s materials are going to stand out from the rest of the mail, you need to keep the messaging simple and concise. Your call to action (CTA), as well as the message itself, needs to be clear and concise so recipients know what you want them to do.

Tell a Story

The power of storytelling is unlimited.

Share stories that will resonate with them and are relevant to the donor.

Provide Multiple Response Options

Make it easy for recipients to respond to direct mail via their preferred communication channel. That means you need to include contact information like your organization website, email address, phone number, fax number, and physical address. People are more likely to respond to your mail if they can choose how to contact you.

woman sitting working on laptop and talking on phone

Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Personalization is the key to building long-term relationships with donors and volunteers. The more personalized information a letter or postcard contains, the more likely a prospect will feel listened to and give them a sense that your relationship is a two-way street.

Start by using the name of the recipient (not “recipient” or “current resident”) whenever possible.


Nonprofit Direct Mail Examples

There are several direct mail services for nonprofits. Here are a few of the most common.

Thank You Letters

Share your gratitude with donors, volunteers, and supporters with thank you letters. In these letters, include information about how their donation contributed to the organization.


Event Promotion

Are you planning an event? Use direct mail to advertise the event. You can also use the printed material as an entry ticket. Then, it will serve as a reminder for the recipient to attend the event.

Personalized Postcards

Postcards are a classic direct mail option. To get more attention and responses than a generic postcard, make sure you personalize it.

Fundraising Letters

When it’s time to raise additional funds for your organization, a letter describing what you will accomplish with the funds will encourage donors to trust your organization and—hopefully—financially support the cause.

Lost Donor Reactivation

Some donors stop donating, and they may need a nudge to remember your nonprofit. With the right message, you can encourage them to start donating again.

Create Customized Nonprofit Direct Mail Campaigns at United GMG

United GMG is a one-stop shop for all your direct mail needs. Our experienced designers and printers are ready to help you design eye-catching materials and print them on our high-quality machines.
We are a family-owned business with the resources necessary to create industry-leading mail pieces that reach your target audience. And, with our advanced tracking techniques, you can evaluate and measure the success of any direct mail—making it easy to improve your campaigns and promote your organization.

Contact us to get a free quote or call to speak to a United GMG representative today.

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