To many people, fundraising by direct mail is fundraising in the purest sense of the word. Essentially you are soliciting donations to your organization without offering a tangible product in return. The reward to the customer is the good feeling one gets from supporting a cause they believe in or membership in your group.

This type of fundraising is most effective when your group addresses a specific, compelling issue of broad concern, such as ensuring the continuation of public television, cruelty to animals, or environmental issues, although it is often used successfully by smaller groups such as sports teams, school bands, etc.

Direct mail fundraising can be effective, but there is some risk involved. You will have to invest in the copy writing, printing and mailing costs. In order to elicit a strong response, your direct mail package needs to look professional and have an attractive, striking layout.

Unless you can get professionals to donate their services, there is no way of doing this “on the cheap”, unless your campaign is done entirely by email. Even still, there is no guarantee that your campaign will work. Before you decide to embark on a direct mail fundraising campaign, there are some questions you need to ask your group.

  • Do you have the capital available to initiate a test mailing and can you bear the loss if your mailing is unsuccessful?
  • Is your issue timely enough so that it is likely to evoke an immediate response from the recipient?
  • Can you effectively distinguish your organization from others doing the same kind of work?
  • Is your organization well-known and established enough to have credible name recognition?
  • Do you have a method of accepting donations by credit card? Email campaigns can link to a PayPal donor button, so there’s no need to pay for a separate merchant account.

If you can answer “yes” to many of these questions, then a direct mail fundraiser may be a good option for you. Many large organizations use them successfully year after year and are pleased with the results.

One caveat though – sometimes a direct mail piece has to be tweaked after the first mailing. You may need to invest a little more in your design and layout to enter the second phase of the program.