chapter 14 Direct Mail

Simply described, direct mail involves sending a form letter seeking support for your nonprofit, and including a return envelope in which people can send back a donation. Direct mail appeals go to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people by bulk mail.

For decades and to the present day, direct mail is the most common and familiar type of solicitation in use in the United States and one of the most common in Canada, Australia, and England. Because of its long history of use and the sheer volume of direct mail, it is one of the most studied strategies, so there are data that can be used to ensure effectiveness.

Some have proclaimed that direct mail is dead, but direct mail is not even sick. E-mail and social media have given us some wonderful new strategies for raising funds, but even organizations that use a lot of social media platforms for fundraising still use direct mail, using the strategies together to maximize response (see Chapter Twelve, “Multi-Channel Fundraising”). Direct mail, e-mail, and social media are similar strategies for engaging prospects and donors, but they are not interchangeable. For general correspondence, e-mail has largely taken the place of both mail and phone, so paper mail has become less common, making it more attractive to the recipient. Organizations are finding that direct mail is actually doing better than it was earlier in this century, when the market for mail was saturated, for a number of reasons. People who ...

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