Integrating a Direct Mail, Email Campaign to Nurture Nonprofit Donors


This is the third in our series about direct mail for nonprofits. In our last post we talked about personalizing your direct mail and prior to that we discussed several items that can increase your direct mail donations. In this post we'll discuss the importance of communicating with your existing and potential donors offline through mail and online through email, as well as offer tips to include in your next integrated fundraising campaign.

Why Incorporate Online?

While direct mail has a host of benefits, as we've been discussing, online giving is growing. The M+R 2014 Benchmarks Study found that online giving increased by 14% from 2012 to 2013. Plus, they found that monthly online giving jumped by 25%. That same study found that website traffic grew by 16%, Facebook fans grew by 37%, and Twitter followers by 46%. People are moving online in increasing numbers along with excellent growth in online donations. Furthermore, once your donors and potential donors are online you have an opportunity to better tell your story through videos, photos, etc., and to do so much more cost effectively. Plus, you can provide more opportunities to donate and convert those donations to ongoing monthly donations. Moreover, with email addresses and social media connections, you can more readily respond to news events, disasters, etc. — quickly activating your followers to make a difference through your organization. Lastly, you can gather more data to further understand your audience through forms, such as demographics, giving history, and issues of importance to them.

Optimize Your Website

DO NOT send your donors to your website if it isn't ready for primetime. If you need some help in this regard, see our previous posts on creating online content that inspires donations and particularly look at our posts on the best online fundraising tools for nonprofits and five steps to skyrocket online donations. And don't forget social media. As noted above, it is growing phenomenally. For further insight take a look at our post on placing social media at the heart of your nonprofit communication plan.

Website and social media optimization is a critically important factor. You don't want to send the donors that you've painstakingly engaged, nurtured, and activated for your cause to your website and lose them in the process. So spend some time evaluating your website and optimizing your landing pages along with your call to action. There are lots of great suggestions in our previous posts.

Insider Tip: The number one thing to keep in mind here is to make sure it's clear what action you want them to take (watch a video, download an ebook, register for an event, tour the site) and all distractions are eliminated, such as navigation bars on landing pages, to keep those conversion rates up. You should also create a custom url related to the campaign the direct mail piece is a part of, such as or, to promote and drive potential donors to.

Collect Email Addresses Relentlessly

Once you're ready to bring your direct mail donors to your online presence, start promoting your website URL and social media channels in all your direct mail campaigns. Once your donors are there, you have an opportunity to provide a call to action not only for donations but also for their email addresses.

If they donate online, you will be collecting their email address as a matter of course. If they are online to learn more about your organization and programs, solicit their email address so that you can forward more information or subscribe them to your blog and/or email newsletter.

Within your direct mail material you can include a space for their email address on your donor response card. You might want to label it "sign up for our email newsletter" or "sign up for important updates about our cause" to provide some incentive for them to sign up.

FundRaising SuccessMagazine notes a few examples in their series titled 20 Direct Marketing Ideas for Small Nonprofits. My favorite is to use the message "put your gift to use faster" by going to the website. This is a great way to encourage going online, making that donation faster and easier. Plus, it allows you to use your landing page to offer the option of signing up for a monthly donation along with specific donation levels — tied, of course, to key programs and benefits.

Coordinate Campaigns

FundRaising Success Magazine’s post above highlighted the Food and Friends fundraising campaign that they called "tie it all together through multichannel marketing." They discussed a coordinated campaign that addressed Food and Friends' "Summer Food Fund," with key email and direct mail messages from their executive chef referencing the same campaign with a consistent tone.

The coordinated campaign began with an email sent 3 days prior to the direct mail arriving along with another email 12 days after the direct mail. The resulting average gift was nearly 100% higher on the fully integrated campaign versus the direct mail only campaign.

This is a superb example of how to coordinate your campaign through using the best features of direct mail, email, and online donations. This also points out how important it is to collect both email addresses and mailing addresses from your donors and supporters.

Move Online Donors to Direct Mail

No doubt you now have donors and supporters who have only provided email addresses. It's time to collect their mailing addresses so that you can take advantage of all the benefits of direct mail to help increase donations, further personalize your message, and more. As we all continue to get inundated with more and more emails every day, direct mail can be a great way to stand out, especially with certain demographics. The key here is nurturing and delighting your donors to give to your organization's cause however they prefer you do that...and many times we see a multichannel approach work best as they each offer different advantages.

I hope this information has been valuable and provided you with some thoughts on next steps to improve your direct mail campaigns and how to leverage both email and mail through coordinated campaigns. While we've outlined some suggestions, the only way to really know what will work best for your organization and audience is to test and analyze. Stay tuned for my next blog that outlines what to track, standard performance rates, and how to analyze the effectiveness of your next direct mail campaign.

Looking for an experienced team of direct mail and email experts? You’ve come to the right place. Contact a Campaign Now specialist today here or call (855) 329-4327.

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Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson is the founder of PathForeWord, a freelance writing and communication consulting service. He has over two decades experience working for the largest youth membership organization in the USA as director of communication services. He’s written on nonprofits, associations, journalism, technology, and the job search process.


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