5 Direct Mail Tips for Nonprofits

Tactics you can start testing right now for more engagement and more donations
By Neil Lubin

While there is no panacea that will guarantee double-digit response rates on your next direct mail package, there are some tried and true practices you can test on your donor file simply and effectively. 

Take a look at these ideas and give some thought to how you can incorporate them in your upcoming mailings.

  1. Simple calls to action. Over and over again, testing has shown that response rates rise when the calls to action in a direct mail package are few and simple. If you want donations, ask plainly and make sure that action takes precedence over any other engagement strategies you may be using.
  2. Stand out. How can you differentiate yourself in the mail? Different sized carriers? Unusual outer envelope teasers? Select a small, but significant percentage of your file to test these ideas before rolling them out to your entire list and find out what works for your donor base.
  3. Try a lift note. A lift note is a brief—usually under 200 words—personal note that accompanies a traditional direct mail letter. A great way to include a message from an influential board member or someone who has been served by your organization. Lift notes add an emotional and personal element that “lifts” response in direct mail packages.
  4. Specific ask amounts on your reply device. Rather than to simply leave a blank line on your reply, ask for a specific amount to encourage higher levels of giving. If you can version your reply device based on the specific donor’s giving history, even better.
  5. Learn the grammar rules, then break them. Direct mail copy that is conversational and staccato is effective. However, to achieve this, you may need to get creative with your punctuation, paragraph lengths and sentence structure. Explain this to your editors and proofers to save some time in the approval process.

Your Tension representative can help you explore how you can begin using these strategies in your next mailing. Contact us to start the conversation today.

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