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Direct Mail Appeals for Nonprofits

Though we have been transitioning into a digital marketing universe for quite a while, direct mail campaigns remain one of the most effective forms of marketing for nonprofits. Direct mail campaigns give nonprofit organizations the opportunity to get creative and personal. There is a ton of thought and research that needs to be done before running these campaigns. Here are some tips from our experts on what to keep in mind before running a direct mail campaign for your nonprofit organization.  


It is important to put thought into who you are trying to reach with your campaign. Sure, you can send it out to thousands of people regardless of demographics, but that method is not efficient in garnering real results. It is up to your organization to choose whether to send your campaign out to your house list or a list of perspectives. 

    • House List: Your house list of emails consists of those who have donated to your organization in the past. Though they are familiar with your nonprofit and there is an existing relationship, it is still important to create a campaign that is special and personalized towards them. 
  • Perspectives: Your campaign will have a brand new audience with those who have no relationship with your organization. It is important that any list you comprise of new prospective donors makes sense for your campaign. It is important to know; have they donated to any similar organizations in the past? Are they passionate about our mission and what we do? Would it make sense for them to receive our direct mail campaign?

Tell Your Story

An essential part of direct mail campaigns is grabbing the attention of the recipients. For nonprofit organizations, the best way to grab their attention is through storytelling. Storytelling allows you to connect to the reader’s emotions, which is the goal of any nonprofit! You can choose different routes for which stories to tell including:

  • Your Organization’s Story: Telling the story of your organization as a whole is a better form of storytelling for those who have not donated to you before. It is the perfect opportunity for you to creatively speak about your mission in order to create emotion for the reader. Be sure to include the story of how you were founded and a few sentiments about what you are doing and who you are helping. 
  • Personal Story: You are able to further tug on heartstrings when you include stories that are based on an individual who your organization was able to help. Readers are more likely to feel connected and compassionate towards your organization when they read about specific stories. 

No matter which direction of storytelling you choose to go with, evoking emotion and compassion with your readers through your direct mail campaign is crucial for success. 

Call for Action

Your main goal for implementing your direct mail campaign is to receive donations. In order to do so, it is necessary to add a call to action to your letter. You have already explained the importance and ambitions of your organization, now you need to tell them what you are asking for. Many nonprofits are shy to ask blatantly for donations, but it is important to be direct about what you are asking for. 

When asking for donations, it is smart to mention what their money will be used for. Use examples about how their donations will be helping. For example, “when you donate $50, you plant 5 trees”. People will be more inclined to donate money to your organization when they know exactly how their money will be impacting your cause. 

Kirkwood Direct

These are only a few things to be considered when planning a direct mail campaign for your nonprofit organization. For any remaining questions or concerns regarding your next direct mail campaign, please feel free to contact the experts here at Kirkwood Direct, we have over 20 years of experience!

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