Nine Reasons Why Direct Mail Totally Rocks!

February 7, 2020

The world of a direct mail fundraiser can be lonely at times, am I right?

Our more digitally-inclined colleagues roll their eyes at our four-page letters. Major gifts coworkers don’t quite understand why we work so hard for gifts of $100 or less. Teammates in the marketing department grumble when we use fonts and colours outside of the branding guide.

And I’m sure you’ve spent hours explaining to friends that no, you don’t develop “junk mail” for a living.

If you work in the world of DM, you know what I’m talking about. So gather round, my fellow sisters and brothers in annual giving. This post is for you.

Here are nine reasons why we direct mail folks totally kick butt:

1. We can tell real stories

Long, detailed stories. With loads of emotional and thought-provoking content. We are rarely constrained by word counts or character limits. Letters give us more room to inspire people, and really show them what their gift will do. People sit down with their coffee in the morning to read a good letter.

2. We can talk to thousands of people at once

And make it seem like it’s a one-on-one conversation. If it’s done right, a well-crafted letter that is personalized for the donor will come across as an intimate note from someone they know.

3. We can get creative

And break the rules while we’re doing it. Branding, schmanding. When you want something to pop out of a mailbox, you can go bold, bright, and unusual.

4. We are thrifty

Yes, the costs associated with a direct mail campaign can add up quickly. But we know where and how to cut costs without impacting response. Give us a budget, and we’ll make it work. Which leads me to…

5. Consistency and predictability

If your organization has been doing direct mail for a few years, you have the data and results to confidently build your annual plan around a revenue goal. You know how many people you need to mail (and how often) to hit your revenue target for the year.

What’s more, Good Works is developing an all-Canadian direct mail benchmarks report that will help you with your budget and planning goals. And if you sign up to participate by February 14, you’ll receive a custom report of your organization’s benchmarks, as compared to the final report!

6. We can include cool stuff in our envelopes

No, not junk, Aunt Karen! I’m talking about cause-related items like a calendar with pictures of the wildlife your donors are saving, or a magnet with early signs of a stroke. (You can read more about valuable donor premium ideas here!)

7. DM appeals — like diamonds — are forever

People hold onto their mail. Direct mail appeals can hang around on kitchen tables, bookshelves or magazine racks for months — sometimes years. One organization I work with received a donation with a reply coupon from an appeal sent more than ten years prior.

8. We can play the long game

Putting a direct mail package together takes time. Certainly, that can have its drawbacks, but it’s also great to have set schedules, and the extra time to think about and fully execute a successful campaign.

9. We get letters in return

Yep, that’s right. It’s not uncommon for donors to write letters back to the organization, telling us their own story or thanking us for the delightful package.

So take pride in your DM skills! Tell your stories with style. Flaunt those bright envelopes. Ignore your 20-something cousin who doesn’t understand what you do for a living. And know that you’re part of a very special tribe of direct mail fundraisers, who are making the world a better place — one postage stamp at a time.

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Melanie Scholz

Melanie Scholz

Twin mom. Boy mom. Eats supper standing up. Fan of Jillian Michaels and HGTV. Lover of charcuterie, white wine and apocalypse-type movies.