Non-Profit Marketing: Direct Mail & Donor Relationships

In the non-profit sector, developing great donor relationships plays a large role in the success of any cause-based organization. Research has shown that long-time, recurring donors can make or break the impact a non-profit has on the community they serve. When it comes to non-profit marketing, the best approach is one that nurtures its contributors and expresses gratitude for their support. If you’re looking for tried-and-true methods to improve your non-profit’s donor relationships, consider implementing these four tactics.  

Quarterly Newsletters 

While e-mail newsletters are certainly effective, print pieces can go a long way with expressing thanks to your donors. A newsletter is the perfect opportunity to report outcomes from donors and for highlighting the positive effect your organization has on your donation recipients. When drafting newsletters, it’s wise to center the work your organization is doing, how it is helping the specific community you serve, and how without your donors, this impact would not exist. Newsletters are also a great opportunity to make direct appeals for contributions from your network of donors.  

Print newsletters can also repurpose content from your website, social media posts, and blogs. Information and transparency go a long way when improving donor relationships. 

“Thank You” Notes 

More than likely, your donors receive receipts after their contributions but that’s not the same as a proper “thank you” note. Automatically mailing a printed “thank you” note can help develop a long-term relationship with a contributor. These notes can be short and simple, and even handwritten. If producing handwritten letters requires more labor than your organization can handle, handwritten elements like signatures and personalized PS messages on typed “thank you” letters conveys authentic gratitude.  

Stewardship Mail for Recurring Donors 

Recurring contributors like monthly donors are the lifeblood of any non-profit organization. Long-time, recurring contributors can sometimes be forgotten—particularly when their donations are received via automated drafts. One of the best ways to nurture these donor relationships is to provide a VIP experience for them. Stewardship mail is a form of non-profit marketing that could include photos of the impact your organization generates, decals and stickers, and other branded merchandise. This tactic is a great way to nurture relationships with recurring donors. This approach can also increase the donation rates of existing contributors, which can help your organization expand its efforts in the long run.  

Increase Donations by “Priming the Pump” 

Only communicating with your network of donors when it’s time to ask for contributions can be quite off-putting. In fact, a study titled “Learning to Say Thank You: The Role of Donor Acknowledgements” conducted numerous experiments with “thank you” notes and appeals for contributions. These experiments demonstrated that sending notes of gratitude, which referenced previous contributions prior to appeals for additional donations, increased future contributions. For example, one experiment involved sending “thank you” letters before another call for contributions to half of an organization’s donor network. This organization saw a 67% increase in giving from the donors who received “thank you” notes over the other half who did not receive these notes.  

One easy way to implement this approach is to send notes of gratitude a couple of weeks before mailing out an end-of-year appeal for donations. A simple focus on previous contributions and gratitude can help your organization reach and exceed its goals.  

Pel Hughes is a woman-owned, full-service printing company in New Orleans, Louisiana. We provide non-profit marketing support including database services, campaign automation, direct mail, and graphic design to a number of organizations. Give our friendly experts a call at (504) 486-8646 to learn more.