From annual fundraising campaigns to monthly mailings to update supporters on recent activities, direct mail provides an essential way for educational institutions and nonprofit organizations to communicate with their donor base.  Here are 5 ways to ensure you are maximizing results from any direct mail effort:

1. Establish a Clear Objective

Determine whether you are trying to garner new supporters, boost attendance at an upcoming event, increase short-term fundraising results or nurture your existing donor database.  Setting the tone and purpose of your direct mail campaign will help you determine how to measure whether your direct mail campaign was a success.

2. Select A Highly Responsive Target Audience

The most critical decision you’ll make in direct mail campaigns is choosing an audience most likely to respond.  Whether the mailing consists of an annual fundraising plea sent to existing donors in your database or you are searching for new supporters, selecting the correct target audience will ensure more responses.  Take the time to profile your current donors to understand what types of prospects are most likely to give and have the greatest financial capacity to give. If you’re using an existing donor database, make sure your records are up-to-date and have correct names and addresses.  You’ll produce stronger direct marketing results and receive postal discounts of up to 20% by keeping your donor information current.

3. Showcase Your Strengths

Be sure to highlight your organization’s strengths and recent activities by telling a story or personalizing your mission. Customize your campaign based on your audience and remember that prospects may not understand your charity or its programs.  Good direct mail appeals create an intimacy with their readers with a conversational voice and frequent use of the word “you.” Your piece should be easy to read with bullet points and short sentences.

4. Establish a Clear Call to Action

Tell your readers exactly what you want them to do. With a clear and measurable call to action, recipients know what steps to take to participate in your upcoming event, send in their donation or become a supporter of your organization. You’ll want to reiterate your primary benefit and create a sense of urgency for them to respond.  And remember, allow them to respond via a channel they are most comfortable with – whether it be signing up online, mailing in a donation or calling to join.

5. Know Your Next Steps

Be sure to implement a system to accurately track responses.  Determine ahead of time whether you will follow up with respondents to thank them for taking action or donating to your cause.  Your direct mail campaign should not be a “one and done” effort.  Remember that multiple impressions are often needed for some to take notice.  Be willing to commit to a strategic sequence of additional mailings, email marketing or social media advertising to extend your reach and boost your response rate.

If your organization needs help finding the right audience or cleaning your existing donor database, AlumniFinder offers a full range of prospecting, data append, wealth screening and data hygiene services.

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