Charities using direct mail are leading the charge.

When it comes to direct mail, ‘Not for Profit’ or charitable organizations are leading the charge concerning the resurgence of direct mail. And why not? It is targeted. It is measurable. And it produces proven results. But what are they mailing? What is the strategy? And can you learn from them? You bet your marketing budget you can!

Keep reading to learn a little more about how charitable organizations battle for your attention and your share of your wallet. You will take away some insight that will help your next campaign.

Analyze the Data:

Savvy charities have looked deep into their past data and established clear benchmarks. This is usually done by looking closely at four key metrics: Lifetime Value, Acquisition Rate, Retention Rate and Top 20.

Test, Test, Test:

Any ‘good’ DM letter can always be made better. Changing a sentence or even just a word can profoundly affect the board. Innovative charities roll out at least two versions of any DM piece as a risk-averse way of learning before mailing it out to the entire database on gut feeling.

Use Analysis to Plan Effectively

Charities look at the past to better predict and plan the future. They have a set campaign schedule that they adhere to religiously. By understanding what they have done and what they received, they can adjust efforts in the following year’s campaigns.


Charities were the first to understand that a personalized DM piece considerably outperforms a generically addressed one. Combined with additional relevant information such as ‘last gift amount,’ this highly personalized approach reinforces a personal connection between charity and donor.

Write ‘Direct Mail’ letters.

There is a definite formula for writing a Direct Marketing letter, and charities who leverage the formula’s components always have successful campaigns. They understand that it is not about them; it’s about the donor. They show how the money that the donor provided was spent. They keep it singular in purpose and simple. They almost always include a testimonial and do not waiver too far from what they have always provided.

Ask, and Ask Again

When it comes to giving, charities understand that sometimes a little extra effort is required. That is why the best of the best leverage additional tactics. While the DM piece is the centre of the campaign, follow-up phone calls, emails, and even reminder mail pieces sent a few weeks after the initial mailing can drive response rates from 10% to 20%!

Remove the Barriers

When asking people to donate, experienced non-profits know to allow for as many gift options as possible. They know not to turn a potential donor away based on limiting their ability to collect. They utilize 1-800 numbers, different payment processing options and leverage the internet.

Keep Prospecting

Charitable marketers are always looking for new donors. They understand that there is a definite attrition rate and that in order to survive, they must acquire new names. They utilize unaddressed mail, trade lists, and rent or purchase compiled names.

Remain Consistent

Successful charitable marketers are also conservative by nature. They resist the urge to ‘shake it up, do not make wholesale changes to existing campaigns, and remain consistent concerning the brand. That brand message also remains consistent across multi-channel offers.

Non-Ask Communications

By increasing the number of ‘touches’ per year, charities strengthen relationships with donors. Commonly this is done through newsletters, thank you cards, and invitations to special events. These communications are not designed to solicit donations but rather to keep the charity ‘top of mind’ in order to gain a ‘share of wallet.’

So now you have a better understanding of how charities and non-profits employ tactics in their overall strategy. How did they rely on information and fundamentals to remain competitive and authentic when asking for people’s hard-earned dollars. They understand that a dollar donated is not a given and that a little hard work combined with DM expertise can net the desired ROI they require year after year to keep operating.

Whether you are a non-profit, a business or a government organization, Russell House Marketing can help you build a DM program to produce targeted, measurable results. We have helped countless clients leverage the power of direct mail – isn’t it time you gave us a call?