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Direct Mail for Non Profit Fundraising

By on October 2, 2015 in Direct Marketing, Fundraising

(by Summer Gould – – U.S.A.)


One of the most common industries to use direct mail is the nonprofit sector. With the economic hard times, many nonprofits have more people to serve and are getting less in donated funds. This creates a drastic gap between needs and financial ability to provide them. In many cases, this gap is driving nonprofits to create more fundraising campaigns as well as finding more potential donors to send to. So let’s see how direct mail can drive your response to increase your donations. Direct mail is more costly than sending out an email due to printing, mailing and postage costs, but when you can increase your ROI to more than cover that cost, it can be well worth it.


In direct mail your list is one of the most important parts. Obviously, the best list is your list of current donors. The USPS requires you to comply with their Move Update regulations by updating your lists every 95 days. There are several important list hygiene tools available to help keep your data clean and accurate.


  • Don’t forget to occasionally solicit lapsed donors. Consider telemarketing to those audiences in addition to mail.
  • Keep your donor mailing lists up to date. Obsolete data not only costs you money spent on undeliverable or misdirected mail, but can cause lost donations and can impact donor goodwill.
  • Studies have found that on average, up to 20 percent of records within a typical house file are undeliverable. By keeping your data current, you will save on printing, mailing and postage costs.
  • National Change of Address (NCOA) for new addresses of people who have moved.
  • Dedupe, so that you are not sending multiple pieces to the same address.
  • Deceased recipient purging, removing anyone who has been reported as recently deceased, can be a great asset as your list of donors are aging.


Finding good lists of prospective donors can be hard. Here are a few ideas you can try.

  1. Trade lists other nonprofits in your area. Make sure to code the lists when you send them out so that you know who responded from what list.
  2. You can find targeted prospect lists by looking for individuals who are sympathetic to your mission and have the capacity to give. By utilizing available list targeting tools it is possible to find prospects that most closely resemble your best donors.
  3. You can customize a list to your specific cause and overlay demographic and psychographic intelligence onto your donor data.
  4. Another option is to profile you donor list. Sophisticated list profiling is now a reality. Through a powerful array of new market segmentation tools you can profile the unique characteristics of your best donors and identify and target new prospects most like them. The results can boost your direct response rate, increase your market penetration, and dramatically improve your fundraising ROI.


Something else that Nonprofits should take note of, if you are mailing raffle tickets: The United States Postal Service (USPS) is strictly enforcing regulations on mailing raffle tickets. If you plan to mail raffle tickets for a fundraiser, you must meet requirements or the USPS could legally refuse to accept your mail. While it is legal to include advertising for a raffle, including a raffle or lottery ticket in a mailing is strictly prohibited unless you follow USPS guidelines. To avoid potential problems, the USPS requires the ticket makes clear that no payment is required to enter a raffle. The following elements should appear on each ticket in a mailing:


  1. Use the wording “suggested donation” before the price of the ticket.
  2. Use the wording “no donation required to enter” or add a check box “Please enter my name in the drawing. I do not wish to make a donation at this time.”


An alternative is to not include a ticket in the mailing. It is legal to advertise a raffle by mail, but you should still use the phrase “suggested donation” if you list the price of a ticket on the advertisement.


Using direct mail for nonprofit fundraising is a great way to help increase your donations. If you are in need of other tips or tricks feel free to reach out and ask providers. They have a wealth of knowledge to help you.



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