Why You Shouldn’t Give Up on Direct Mail


You may think direct mail is a relic of the past or you don’t use it much because it’s too expensive.  But beware. Direct mail is still a viable way to communicate with your donors.

Listen to your donors

Some donors prefer to hear from you by mail. How do you know?  You ask them.

The more you know about your donors, the more effective your communication will be. It’s good to know the age range of your donors.  Most donors are over 45 and won’t think direct mail is a relic from the past. They might respond better to it. Most people do, even millennials. Direct mail: dead, or immortal?

The best way to communicate is to use a variety of channels, but make sure your donors are using them, too.  Aim to communicate by mail at least four times a year.

You should continue to mail the following:

Fundraising letters

Fundraising letters are still effective and your fundraising campaign will work better if you use a multi-channel approach.  Many people are prompted by the direct mail letter and then donate online.  That’s what I usually do.

Direct Mail or E-Mail: What’s Best for Fundraising?

Direct Mail Is Still the King of Fundraising Communication, But…

Thank you card or letter 

Even if someone donates online, they should get a thank you note in the mail (and within a few days, as well).

Think of how little postal mail we get these days, compared to email, and how much of it’s junk.  Make your donor’s day with a heartfelt, personal thank you note.

You can also send a note of gratitude at Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, or any time of the year.


I know print newsletters are expensive, but not sending one could be a mistake. Your donors are more likely to read a print newsletter.

Ideally, you should send four quarterly print newsletters a year and a monthly e-newsletter. If four is too costly, send one or two.

Think about putting a donation envelope in your print newsletter.  It’s a proven way to earn extra revenue.  If you do this, be sure to communicate in other ways in which you’re not asking for money.

If you’re really strapped, send a year-end appeal letter and a newsletter with a donation envelope in the spring.

Making Money With Donor Newsletters

Event invitations

If you hold fundraising or appreciation events, be sure to send a printed invitation.  Your higher dollar, older donors might respond better to a nice print invitation with a reply card.

Annual reports and updates

I’m not talking about one of those behemoth 20 page annual reports.  You’re better off with something shorter – a four-page report or even better, an oversized postcard.

You also don’t need to mail an annual report to all your donors, but you should share accomplishments with them.

Create different types of annual reports for different donors – four page reports for grant and corporate funders and postcards for individual donors.  You can also create an electronic version of your annual report.

Direct mail works

Even if your donors are active on email and social media, they’re flooded with messages and may not see yours.  Throw a few direct mail messages into the mix.

Don’t give up on direct mail. #fundchat recently hosted a lively discussion about direct mail. Here’s the transcript. #fundchat – Direct Mail Is Dead! Long Live Direct Mail!

In my next post, I’ll write about how you can print and mail without breaking your budget.

Photo by Abbey Hendrickson

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