How to Integrate Direct Mail Appeals With Your Online Fundraising

June 27, 2019  •   Anna Carter

Woman reading emails on tablet

Ask any non-profit development director or parish council, and you’ll hear a different story. “We’ve always been doing direct mail, and it’s working!” “If you’re not engaging online, you’re missing out.” “The postal service is increasing their postage prices. Can we still afford this?” “Nobody writes checks anymore.” “People still write checks … and we could use a big one!”

No matter what campaign you’re conducting at your vibrant parish, utilizing multiple communication channels makes sense. We’ll tell you why, plus give a few tips for making the most of your new combination strategy.

The Case for Integration

You may notice that some of these competing voices come from people of different backgrounds. Utilizing multiple channels engages your givers across generational lines. Here are some quick stats:

  • 77% of the silent generation (or matures) gives through a check in the mail, as well as 54% of baby boomers and 43% of Gen X.
  • For millennial givers, only 26% cite their key source of donation information being direct mail. 84% make their donation decision through online channels such as emails, social media, and the websites they visit.
  • When encountering a giving opportunity for the first time, one-third of matures heard about it through the mail.
  • Millennials and Gen X are generally open to a wide variety of channels, but over three-quarters of matures and boomers cite direct asks and mailed letters as appropriate, preferred donor solicitation.

Beyond the generational divides, more channels means more eyes on your campaign. A basic marketing principle is the rule of seven. People need to come across your concept seven times before they start to take action. The more channels you can engage, the more people will interact with your fundraising campaign. The more people interact with your campaign, the more it sticks in their mind. The more it sticks, the more likely they are to give.

Make the Most of the Form Letter

When you’re launching a two-pronged campaign, make sure it looks like one campaign. Use a unified design and tagline, part of what marketers call a “brand.” Consider a special order of envelopes to match your online details, perhaps with your campaign phrase on the outside. Once they open the letter, make sure your campaign’s colors and design are obvious. If you’ve created a special logo or are using consistent photos online, place them in the letter or postcard. All of your communication mediums — direct mail, web, and social media — should share the same look and feel for your giving campaign. Here are a few more pro tips:

  • Add to Your Digital Database. Even if your letter includes the option to send a check by mail, collecting digital parishioner data is crucial. Include a section for your parishioners to write in their email address. Collecting emails expands your engagement power to yet another channel.
  • Personalized Touch. Everyone recognizes a form letter. How about catching them off-guard with an extra human element? Sit down as an entire parish staff for an afternoon and jot quick one-line messages on each note. This one doubles as a team-building exercise!
  • P.S. This is Really Important. If you’re opting for a full text letter, don’t forget the postscript. When there’s a lot to take in, these are one of the most read elements of direct mail. Repeat your call to action, and provide a link to your donate page where people will see it.

Get Creative with Your Campaigns

For some people, it’s easy to toss out an envelope. A postcard can provide instant visual engagement. Although a postcard doesn’t allow someone to mail back a donation in a provided envelope, they can be directed to a donation link on your website. For this method, make sure the card is compelling. We’ve provided a few ideas below. And make sure you know your neighborhoods by timing the postcard to arrive on a different day than the midweek grocery store ads and fast-food flyers.

  • The Half-Finished Story. When raising money for a particular campaign, consider starting a story through mail. Offer the follow-up on your church website. For example, say you’re expanding the parish hall. Brainstorm what the hall has been used for in the past and who the new space will benefit. Pick a few representative people. Put their photo and a compelling paragraph on a postcard with a link to your parish website. There, post a short video testimonial with a link to your donation page.
  • Coming Home through Common Ground. You likely have a number of people on your parish roster who haven’t been engaged in the life of your community. While it’s tough to track Mass attendance, you can track which registered parishioners have been donating regularly. Consider drawing people back in through parish needs that have a universal appeal. Are you raising money for an initiative at the parish school? How about a direct service or justice campaign? Don’t disregard these members on the margins. Reach out! By incorporating them into a mailing campaign, you’re inviting them to participate in your mission to bolster education or serve the poor. More than what ends up in the bank, you may be surprised who ends up in the pews!
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