“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.”
—Booker T. Washington
No one knows how much of the roughly $335 billion in U.S. nonprofit contributions in 2014 was accounted for by direct mail—but anyone actively involved in fundraising today (except perhaps for digital specialists) will tell you that appeals with a stamp attached brought in far more than social media, email, mobile, and other new communication channels. With the possible exception of major gifts, which are generally solicited face-to-face, there’s really no other fundraising strategy that’s as important for nonprofit success from a purely financial standpoint.
Direct mail is a great way to build a steady stream of unrestricted revenue from individuals, as well as spread awareness and brand recognition. However, it’s an expensive investment, and direct mail is best suited to organizations with large donor lists and budgets of at least $1 million. If you are a national organization or have a large annual budget, and are prepared to invest at least $250,000 to $500,000 over several years before your efforts bear fruit, direct mail may have a lot to offer.
Smaller, grassroots organizations are better off focusing on online fundraising and building relationships with individual donors who can give major gifts over time, as outlined in various other chapters in the book. Depending on the size of your donor list and your ...