Email is a powerful tool for nonprofits of all types and sizes. Whether you’re promoting a fundraising event, trying to boost traffic to your online donation page, or sharing information about your cause, email marketing is a great way to spread your message. There’s a tangible ROI for fundraising via email—
according to Double the Donation
, for every 1,000 fundraising emails sent, nonprofits raised an average of $90.

If you’re not effectively harnessing the power of email marketing or are looking for ways to improve your email campaigns, this post will help you hone your email marketing plan with five fundamentals: audience targeting, subject line optimization, personalization, and storytelling.

Audience Targeting

Segmenting your audience is key to reaching the right people with messaging that resonates and compels them to take action. Segmentation is the process of grouping your audience based on shared characteristics. There are several ways to approach segmentation, but some common segments include basic demographics (age, location, gender), plus individual donors’ giving history, participation in events, volunteer engagement, or favorite outreach campaigns.

While it might sound tricky, segmenting your audience for targeted email marketing is a crucial part of database management. Here are some ways to improve your audience segmentation:

  • Collect donor information. Don’t stress if you don’t have this information readily available. Now’s the time to start and you’ll be better prepared for future campaigns. Survey your audience to collect basic demographics and dive into your database to pull data points that relate to their history with your nonprofit.
  • Leverage digital marketing tools. There are a ton of choices available for nonprofit marketing tools. For instance, you might use an event management tool specific to a fundraising event. Use this to collect pertinent information for integration into your CRM. Nonprofits can often utilize these tools and no or reduced cost.
  • Review previous segments. If you’ve done segmentation in the past, it’s a good idea to periodically review your processes and individual segments to ensure you’re getting the information you need and that it’s accurate. You might also dive into past campaigns for each segment to see what’s worked and where you can improve.
  • Monitor engagement metrics. After you send an email campaign to specific segments, keep an eye on metrics such as open and click-through rates to see how folks are responding. Your email marketing tool might also be able to help you identify promising new segments within your broader audience.
  • Use A/B testing. Try different messaging within your audience segments. For example, split your past gala participants into two groups and use different calls-to-action in each email to see what resonates.

Once you’ve identified your core audience segments, document them in your nonprofit’s overall marketing plan so they can be effectively leveraged down the road in future campaigns.

Subject Line Optimization

How often have marketing emails landed in your inbox, only for you to ignore them because the subject line wasn’t compelling or interesting enough? Engaging subject lines have a major impact on open rates, and subsequently, engagement with your nonprofit. Subject lines are the first opportunity you have to make an impression on the reader, so it’s important to get them right.

Try these strategies to make your subject lines irresistible:

  • Use relevant and appropriate emojis. Sending an email about a dog adoption event? Drop the dog emoji in the subject line. Inviting people to your annual golf fundraiser? Use the golfer emoji. Emojis are fun and engaging and often prompt people to click.
  • Use active language and verbs. You want the reader to act, so your subject line should compel them to do so. Words like help, act, and give are great to include, as well as verbs that relate to your cause, like feed, clothe, protect, and rescue.
  • Create a sense of urgency. Like with active language, your subject line should encourage folks to do something
    right now. Words or phrases that imply a time limitation or that people are missing out on something are good examples, such as donate now, feed 10 kids today, don’t wait, and time is running out.
  • Make it personal. Use merge tags to pull personal information into subject lines to draw readers in, like “[First Name], we need your help” or “A special offer for you, [First Name].
  • Mention impact data. Numbers are attention-grabbing. Drop some data in your subject lines and watch your open rates climb. For example, you could mention the number of constituents you’ve served, data from a survey, or how much you need to reach your fundraising goal.

Above all, subject lines should accurately reflect the purpose of the email and entice them to participate. For example, let’s say you’re adding a new fundraising idea, like a hole-in-one contest, to your annual charity golf tournament. Use the real estate in your subject line to mention the contest’s prize to grab your audience’s attention.


We’ve talked about how segmentation is the driver for you to be able to personalize messaging, but how you use that personalization in the email’s content is also important. Once you have your segments in place, it’s time to incorporate details about those segments into the email copy. Some information you can integrate could include:

  • Previous amount giving to a past or similar campaign
  • The outcomes of their donation
  • How they can grow their impact in a new campaign that’s targeted to their interests

For example, let’s say you’re hosting a charity golf tournament to raise money for your organization’s mission to build homes for underprivileged families. Your audience’s occupation segments might include homebuilders or realtors, so your personalized content could focus on the need for affordable housing in your community.


Everyone loves stories. It’s how nonprofits can authentically connect with donors and supporters. And while it might seem challenging to tell a nonprofit story through a medium such as email, there are many strategies you can employ to make it impactful, such as:

  • Using photos and videos that feature beneficiaries
  • Focusing on a single beneficiary and telling their story in detail
  • Highlighting your nonprofit’s impact and transformation with tangible facts and data
  • Give your email a narrative structure that has a beginning, middle, and end
  • Includes clickable call to action buttons and banners

The most important thing to keep in mind is to let the human aspect of your cause shine in your email. Don’t focus on hitting your fundraising goals in a vacuum—instead, contextualize your fundraising asks with the emotions of your beneficiaries to show that your cause and their donations impact real people.

Suppose you’re collaborating with a business as a sponsor for a specific fundraising event, campaign, or matching donation. GolfStatus suggests including them in promotional materials to maximize exposure to their target audience. You might consider sending a specific email that tells the story of the impact the sponsor has had on your mission or specific beneficiaries.

Wrapping Up

Email is one of the most heavily used digital marketing tools for a reason—it’s effective. These marketing strategies will help give dimension to your cause and solicit emotional responses from your audience—all through a screen.

In our increasingly digital world, your donors are constantly bombarded with emails, notifications, and online ads. If your nonprofit needs a way to break through the noise and connect with supporters offline, look no further than tried and true direct mail campaigns.

Direct mail is the perfect solution for combatting supporters’ digital fatigue, and it remains an effective tool for fundraising, acquiring new supporters, and stewarding existing donors. To give you a better idea of why it’s so effective, we’ll discuss five impactful benefits that direct mail offers:

  1. Direct Mail is Highly Personal
  2. Supporters Get a Tangible Reminder of Your Organization
  3. Direct Mail Provides the Space to Tell Stories
  4. There’s Less Competition for Recipients’ Attention
  5. It Fits Seamlessly Into a Multichannel Strategy

Direct mail campaigns can be successful for nonprofits of all sizes and experience levels. As we explore these benefits, we’ll also give you tips on how to make your campaign resonate with your audience.

1. Direct Mail is Highly Personal

Emails tend to feel generic and bland because recipients get so many, but your supporters likely don’t receive as much physical mail. This makes direct mail feel special, and the fact that it arrives at recipients’ homes and they can hold it in their hands makes it feel even more personal. Just compare the effect of a physical, handwritten letter thanking someone for their support with a typical thank-you email that they may not even open.

Direct mail’s personalization helps you connect with existing supporters and acquire new donors by showing recipients that you care about them as individuals, not just sources of funding. Use additional personalization techniques to see better results, such as:

  • Using the donor’s name. Steer away from “Dear Donor” and address every recipient by their first name. Even though it’s simple, opening with the supporter’s name is important for starting the letter off on the right foot.
  • Referencing their past donations and involvement. If you’re writing to an existing or lapsed donor, mention how they’ve supported your organization in the past. Get specific by referencing data from your nonprofit’s CRM, such as the most recent campaign they donated to or the last event they attended.
  • Updating them on the personal impact of their donations. Go one step further by not only mentioning their last donation but also letting them know the impact it made. Give them a tangible result, such as “Your $200 donation allowed us to add 50 new diversity-focused children’s books to the public library.”

Remember that the information in your donor database must be regularly updated to ensure that the personal details you reference are correct and up-to-date. Follow best practices from resources like NPOInfo’s nonprofit data hygiene guide to maintain clean and accurate data that you can use in direct mail campaigns.

2. Supporters Get a Tangible Reminder of Your Organization

A major part of direct mail’s value for nonprofits is its tangibility. Your donors are likely to delete emails that are crowding their inboxes right away, but most people keep physical mail for a longer time.

Whether your fundraising appeal ends up sitting on their desk for a few days or they leave it by the door until they’re ready to donate, it serves as a physical reminder of your nonprofit in your recipient’s home. Direct mail can even hold sentimental value for supporters in a way that emails can’t replicate. Think of donors keeping an especially heartfelt thank-you note or putting a card with photos representing their impact on their fridge.

Tangibility is a benefit of all types of direct mail, but especially if you supplement your letters with occasional small gifts. Sending small items like branded water bottles or stickers is a nice way to recognize donors and keep your nonprofit top-of-mind.

3. Direct Mail Provides the Space to Tell Stories

Across every medium, using storytelling strategies humanizes your communications and helps you connect with readers on an emotional level. However, direct mail is uniquely suited to storytelling because it provides more space than social media or texts, it’s more likely to be fully read by recipients, and it’s easy to add compelling visuals.

Meyer Partners’ guide to direct mail fundraising recommends focusing on these three strategies to tell powerful stories with your direct mail:

  • Resonance: Stories have to resonate emotionally with your supporters to have an impact. The best way to achieve this is to use real, genuine stories of people involved with your nonprofit, such as beneficiaries, volunteers, or donors.
  • Relevance: Place the donor in the driver’s seat of the story to make sure they see where they fit in. Use donor-centric language like “you” and “we,” and emphasize how the reader can make a personal impact with their donation.
  • Respect: When using real stories, it’s important to maintain a high level of respect for everyone involved, meaning beneficiaries and donors. Only tell people’s stories with their express permission, don’t embellish the truth, and stay away from negative emotions like fear or guilt.

To see these strategies in action, take a look at this short example of a fundraising appeal for a capital campaign:

Devin says that the Augusta Boys and Girls Club raised her. She came to the Matthews Center every day after school, where she made friends, had fun safely, and felt supported throughout her childhood. But in the years since Devin graduated, the building has developed a number of problems and now needs a major renovation. You can support countless Augusta children by making a donation to help us rebuild the Matthews Center. Donate today and be the reason more kids have the same experience Devin had.

4. There’s Less Competition for Recipients’ Attention

The average office worker receives over 120 emails a day. That’s a lot of messages to wade through to find your organization’s fundraising appeal or campaign update. But while your supporters’ email inboxes are oversaturated with promotional messages, far fewer letters end up in their mailboxes.

This makes your nonprofit’s direct mail much more likely to stand out and mean more to recipients. Your message can easily get lost in a string of 100 email notifications that feel like a chore to read. But if a supporter only finds five items in their mailbox, two of which are bills, they’ll be excited to see what your organization has to say.

5. It Fits Seamlessly Into a Multichannel Strategy

Finally, direct mail helps you create a well-rounded nonprofit marketing strategy when you incorporate other channels. Use a variety of communication channels that are relevant to your audience to give your messages a broader reach. This might include your website, phone calls, email, social media, texts, and more.

A key part of developing a successful multichannel marketing strategy is connecting your channels to present a cohesive brand. To connect direct mail with your other marketing channels, you can:

  • Add QR codes. Many of your direct mail recipients may want to donate online. Instead of making them type out a link or Google your nonprofit’s website, add a QR code that leads to your donation page or event registration form when readers scan it with their phones.
  • Include your social media handles at the bottom of the letter. Remind supporters to follow your organization on social media by placing each of your handles below your message. Include your nonprofit’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other profiles you have.

By giving your donors multiple ways to connect with your nonprofit, both online and offline, you’ll increase the chances that your organization stays on their minds.

As you develop your own direct mail campaigns and explore these benefits for yourself, make sure to measure your direct mail strategy’s success and change course as needed. Monitor response rates, donations from direct mail, and other key metrics to ensure that your messages are making an impact.

You’ve set a date and booked a golf facility—now it’s time to get people on the green! A well-crafted, personalized invitation is a great way to rally your donors, constituents, volunteers, and partners to attend. Personalizing your invitations is a great marketing tactic that not only garners the recipient’s attention but makes them feel valued. After all, wouldn’t you rather open a letter addressed to you rather than something vague, like “valued supporter”?

According to GolfStatus, the average golfer’s annual income is near twice that of the average American, which makes them prime candidates for donors. Because the golfer donor is such a valuable audience segment, inviting them in the most personal way possible makes them more inclined to participate or donate to your event. Here are seven tips to effective golf fundraiser invitations.

1. Segment your audience.

Your organization likely has a great base of contacts to invite to your charity golf tournament. Start by segmenting your recipients by your chosen criteria to tailor your messaging to appeal to each audience segment. You can segment by:

  • Age or gender
  • Past event participation
  • Giving history
  • Volunteer history
  • Interest in a particular program or outreach effort
  • Geographic location
  • Job title or organization

It’s important to note that to create these segments for targeted messaging, it’s important to collect as much information about your contacts as possible. If you haven’t done this in the past, now’s the time to start! You can better understand your audience by conducting surveys, hosting focus groups, tracking email opens and clicks, or using social media to gather insights.

2. Determine how you’ll reach supporters.

A mix of approaches is likely to yield the best results in inviting people to play in, sponsor, or donate to your golf fundraiser. Email, direct mail, in-app messaging, social media, are all possibilities to include in your marketing mix.

According to Double the Donation, email fundraising has the highest ROI of any fundraising communication method. It’s effective in reaching a wide audience with less time and expense, and it can be scheduled to send at certain dates or times with calls-to-action specific to an audience segment. Craft clickable and compelling subject lines that capture the recipients attention so they open and act on the invitation. Use humor, wit, or creative wordplay to increase open rates, such as:

  • Swing into Action: Join Us for Our Annual Golf Fundraiser
  • Fore! Get Ready for a Hole-in-One Experience
  • Hit the Green and Support Our Cause
  • Tee Up for a Great Cause: You’re Invited to Our Golf Fundraiser

Relevant emojis can also be used sparingly as well as personalized greetings by using merge tags to make the email stand out in your recipient’s inbox.

Don’t underestimate the power of direct mail invitations. Make these printed pieces attractive, personal, branded, and compel the recipient to open it instead of tossing it straight into the recycle bin. Think about creating a custom envelope that bears your email subject line to create a cohesive campaign and pique the recipient’s interest. Or send a simple save-the-date postcard ahead of the formal invitation to get it on golfer and sponsor radars as soon as possible.

3. Personalize the invitation’s message.

Adding a layer of personalization to your invitation makes your donors feel even more seen by your nonprofit. This can be as simple as customizing the email or letter for each audience segment or any of the following creative approaches:

  • Send a personalized video via email or text. Record a video from event organizers, nonprofit beneficiaries, or volunteers thanking the recipient for their past support and inviting them to attend the golf event. Add a personal touch by mentioning something specific to the recipient, such as their favorite golf course or a recent accomplishment.
  • Include a small personalized gift. Show the recipient how much you value their support and involvement with a gift that plays to their interests or the type of event, such as a golf ball, can cooler, or set of tees bearing your organization or tournament’s logo along with a handwritten note. Tap your planning team, board of directors, or volunteers to help write these notes.
  • Create a custom invitation package for major donors. Because this is more time and cost-intensive, it’s best to save this approach for major supporters. Design a special invitation that’s customized to the recipient, such as their name or photo, as well as event details and program highlights. You might also hand-deliver the package to the recipient’s home or office for an extra touch.
  • Combine printed and digital formats. Use QR codes in printed pieces to link folks directly to the event registration website or to a personalized video that invites them to support the event.

However you choose to personalize your invitations, your message should resonate with the recipient in some way. Whether you cater to their specific interests or past involvement with the organization, a personalized ask is more likely to get a response.

4. Keep it clear and concise.

No one wants to read a wall of text in an email or letter and will fast-track your invitation right to the trash. Keep your copy brief, concise, and to the point. Use bullet points to break up text and complement text with graphics, photos, or infographics.

For example, instead of detailing everything about your event in the invitation, write a brief description and supplement it with photos from last year’s golf fundraiser. Link out to a photo album or the event website where folks can find out more about the event, what you’re raising money for, and the itinerary for the day.

5. Make them want to get involved.

Above all, your invitation should make recipients want to play in the golf event or support it in some way. Highlight elements that make it fun and exciting, specifics about the program or effort the tournament will raise funds for, and components that make it special. If you’re hosting a hole-in-one contest, raffle, or silent auction, talk up the prizes they could win. If you’re live-scoring the tournament, you could also invite people to follow along with the live leaderboards and follow certain teams (these are also a great chance to ask folks to donate to the event). If you have other games, entertainment, or demonstrations on the course, be sure to feature these in your invitations. Another idea is to create videos of your unique golf tournament fundraising ideas in action.

6. Include a call-to-action.

However you invite people to your golf fundraiser, it should be actionable. Email invitations should include a direct link to where they can register, purchase add-ons, make a donation, or purchase a sponsorship as soon as they hear about the event. Printed and mailed invitations should include a QR code that links to the same event website. Forcing people to fill out a paper form, write a check, find a stamp, and drop it in the mail creates barriers to participating. Make it simple!

Create urgency by offering early bird registration rates, offering an exclusive offer for a certain number of golfers or teams (such as a free t-shirt, gift certificate from a sponsor, or sleeve of golf balls), or limiting your tournament’s field.

7. Follow up after the tournament.

Keep the conversation going after the tournament. At a bare minimum, send recognition letters to all attendees. For major donors and sponsors, send handwritten thank you notes that help build and strengthen the relationship. Think creatively about how to keep these folks engaged with your organization, such as making check-in phone calls, inviting them for coffee or lunch, a round of golf, or a tour of your offices.

Wrapping up

You can adapt this road map for golf tournament invitations to your nonprofit’s needs and capabilities. The goal is to create invitations that compel people to play in, sponsor, or donate to your charity golf tournament, so use these tips and best practices to make your next golf event a success.

Direct mail is an integral part of any multichannel fundraising campaign. Your organization benefits from mail’s high visibility, response rates, and separation from online marketing clutter. There are a few best practices you can take to make the most out of your direct donation request letter efforts. 

Effective direct mail can be the turning point in meeting your goals. A physical fundraising appeal can work to direct readers to your donation page, ask for volunteer time, spread news, and anything else you may need to drive your mission forward. The opportunities are vast with effective communication via physical mail. 

Here at iATS Payments, we’ve worked with a wide range of nonprofits to increase their ROI in their fundraising efforts. A common challenge we’ve seen organizations run into is converting direct mail supporters to actual donors. There are a few practices you can use to make your mail work for your nonprofit:

  1. Strategize your direct mail fundraising appeal with donor segments.
  2. Add a personal touch to your mail for each supporter.
  3. Write effective copy in the body of your letter.
  4. Provide ways for donors to give through a payment processor.

With these tips in mind, you’ll get the highest ROI out of your direct donation request mail campaign. Let’s unpack some of the necessary steps.

1. Strategize your direct mail fundraising appeal with donor segments.

One of the first steps your team should take in creating a marketing strategy is to segment your audience. Categorizing your donors is easy and helps you specifically target those who can push your mission forward. Here’s how taking this simple step benefits your marketing efforts:

  • Higher conversion rates
  • Increased ROI
  • Targeted communications

This way, you’ll be sending mail to the segments that have taken previous similar actions to help your mission. These recipients are more likely to help out versus someone who has never interacted with your cause. If you’re looking to move forward with segment your audience, here are three simple steps you can take to do so effectively:

Utilize your CRM data. 

Your CRM works with the data you retain to build profiles and sort your valuable fundraising data. For example, you’re able to see the data inputted during the giving process from your donors. This can look like recent giving, events they’ve registered for, and contact info. Additionally, you’re able to track their interactions with emails you’ve sent and any other interactions with your digital marketing. If your CRM or donor database is missing key data points like date of birth, employer information, mailing address or phone numbers, a data append service can help you fill in the gaps.

Put your CRM to use by incorporating your data insights into your direct mail strategy by focusing on targeted appeals to recipients for the most effective fundraising letter possible. 

Characterize your donor groups. 

When you characterize your donors into groups, you will notice that each segment becomes its own subset within your organization. When this happens, it’s indicative that your data effectively targets different people who participate in your efforts. For example, a school’s groups may look like this: 

  • Students
  • PTA Parents
  • School Board Members
  • Faculty and Staff

With these groups, your team can paint a picture of what it looks like to contribute to each subsection and how to communicate with them efficiently.

Plan separate outreaches to your donor subsections. 

Now that your groups are separated by characteristics, your communication should be strategic for targeting their interests. For reference, DNL Omnimedia provides specific tips for segmenting your donors that your team should consider. A good way to ensure you’re leveraging this data is to make sure your fundraising letters for each group cater to their interests. Be sure to keep track of how they’re responding and adjust accordingly. 

2. Add a personal touch to your mail for each supporter.

The next step after determining your donor segments is to draft your letters with personalization to each recipient. According to Experian, personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates (source). You’re already making a specific ask to your subgroups, and it’s worth it for your team to go the extra mile and incorporate a bit of extra information from your CRM into each letter. Your fundraising software should even automate this process.

Here’s how to catch your donor’s eye. 

  • Writing Dear [their name], rather than a general salutation.
  • Taking care to include the proper spelling of their name and address.
  • Including details about their prior engagements.
  • Recognizing donors for their previous efforts.

These personalized details can save your letter from looking like junk mail to the recipient. In taking these steps, your relationships with your donors also grow that much more. Going the extra mile confirms to your recipient that you recognize their efforts and care about them as an individual. 

3. Write effective copy in the body of your letter.

Now that you have a strategy for targeting individual donors, be sure to incorporate specific writing strategies to fully establish the mission of your letter. Think about how your team can write a letter that both tells a story about your specific fundraising campaign and why you’re asking for their contributions. 

Stories leverage your letter by:

  • Having an emotional appeal to the reader.
  • Being more memorable than numbers and facts.
  • Sharing the reason why you’ve dedicated your time to this cause.

You can tell the story of why you’re devoting time and energy to this specific fundraiser in a variety of ways. For instance, communicate this through how your past efforts have positively affected the community. When recipients read of tangible results, they know your organization is capable and worth investing in. 

Another storytelling route you can take is communicating why you’ve decided to form this nonprofit in the first place. If you’re stuck in writing the body of your letter, refer to this guide of fundraising letter templates for inspiration.

However you tell the story of your mission and efforts, be sure to make the donor feel like they are the hero of your story. This is effective writing because the reader will begin to picture themselves as part of the change your group is making. For example, you’ll want to directly address them as “you”.  Remember, they care more about what they can do for your organization rather than general actions you’ve done on your own.

Finally, end your letter with a straightforward call to action for a donation, whether online or through physical mail. Make sure that you tell your reader exactly how you want them to take action. Don’t leave details up for interpretation as it may confuse them. These details can include:

  • Asking for specific amounts. Include a variety of options for donation amounts. For example, writing out “$10, $25, $50, $100…” can help your donor picture what amount will serve your organization.
  • Cater these amounts to your donor segments. With your CRM’s data, you’re able to get an idea of each recipient’s giving history. With this, you can ask for larger gifts to people with the willingness and ability to give more.
  • Direct them to your giving options. The goal of your letter is to convince your reader to give to your organization. Make sure it’s clear how they can contribute with a link or QR code to a donation page, or a physical donation form.
  • Provide clear contact information. If your recipient has any questions about their donation, be sure to provide multiple lines of contact. This will reinforce your relationship with them even further if they pursue this option.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be writing an effective direct mail appeal in no time. 

4. Provide ways for donors to give through a payment processor.

Now that you’ve inspired your recipients to give to your cause, make sure they’re able to complete the process quickly and easily. iATS Payments explains the impact of your donation page and how its design affects the completion of the donation. If your system is confusing, it can scare away potential donors at the final step. On the other hand, providing a quick and convenient way to give encourages increased or recurring giving!

Let’s get into important items to consider when developing your donation form. Your goal is not not only to capture a single donation but to increase your efforts in any way possible. For example:

  • Suggested donation amounts help donors picture what is needed for your organization to reach its goals. These can also persuade donors to give a little more than they would have previously.
  • Including a recurring donation option can increase the likelihood that your supporter will consider and follow through with this giving tactic.
  • Provide multiple options for giving; this can be through a physical prepaid envelope, your website, etc. 
  • Continued communications that donors can opt in to. Include an area where visitors can indicate that they’re interested in attending events or giving time are great for recruiting more volunteers.
  • A few optional questions to boost your donor data. Consider asking simple questions such as “how did you hear about us?” to track the ROI of your direct mail campaign.

Overall, your donation page is the final and crucial step to securing donations. The choices you make can provide an easy and fast experience for donors, and ultimately can encourage future engagement and increased donations. 

Your direct mail fundraising campaign can bring in a lot of donations for your organization. Be sure you’re taking the above tips into consideration to make the most of your efforts. Get the most out of your CRM and personalize your letters for increased readership, then drive them to your optimized donation page. Happy fundraising!

Author Biography

Robbie Bernstein 

Author photo

Robbie Bernstein, an iATS Payments Account Executive, uses her wealth of payment processing knowledge to help nonprofits thrive. Robbie puts her heart into fundraising for Cancer research, the Make a Wish Foundation and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  

Fundraising letters are the backbone of any nonprofit’s direct mail fundraising strategy. Having the most effective fundraising letter possible maximizes the impact of your organization’s marketing spend and helps drive the most donations to ensure you can do what you do best—serve your cause. To help you make the most out of your fundraising letters, here are 5 easy-to-do best practices to think about when setting up your next campaign.

1. Segment your audience.

Segmenting your audience is critical to improving your fundraising results. If your donor list is small, this can be as simple as mailing different appeals to existing, lapsed (those who haven’t given in a few years), and prospective donors (those who have never given). 

For organizations with larger constituent lists, segmentation can get incredibly complex as it’s driven by a number of variables—recency or size of the last gift, total contribution amounts, donor age or gender, type of appeal, etc. 

If you’re worried your data is out of date — or if you’ve never collected that data at all — no worries! One-time data append services can help you fill in the gaps of information like date of birth, address, or telephone number. Additionally, some nonprofit tools like matching gift tools offer real-time appending of specific information, like employer data.

Here's an example of segmenting your effective fundraising letters.

The takeaway here is that regardless of your network of support, some sort of segmentation can have huge benefits to the results of your appeals.

2. Personalize your letters.

Personalization is also incredibly important. This might be the single easiest step a nonprofit can take to improving the response to a fundraising letter. There are levels of complexity that you can use when personalizing a letter—from including the donor’s name in the salutation (i.e. “Dear Jane,”) to referencing the state/county that the recipient lives in throughout the letter (i.e. “your contributions have supported so many impoverished students in the Atlanta area.”

The more the donor feels personally connected to the letter that they’re reading, the more likely they are to respond to the call to action in that letter. People enjoy seeing things addressed to them much more than they do to “dear donor.” Keep this in mind next time you write your fundraising appeal.

3. Incorporate a multi-channel strategy.

Fundraising letters drive the vast majority of individual donations to nonprofits in the US every year. It’s important to know, however, that using a multi-channel approach not only gets you donations from other channels (online donations, text-to-give, etc.) but improves the results from your direct mail campaigns too.

Here's an example of a multi-channel approach to run alongside your effective fundraising letters.

The more channels used for fundraising the better, as long as there is coordination between them. Consistent branding, messaging, and calls-to-action are key.

4. Partner with a fundraising platform.

Choosing a top-tier fundraising partner can help you get the most from your fundraising campaigns. You put in the time and effort to help your cause, so you’ll want to make sure that you use a dedicated direct mail fundraising partner that is easy to work with, affordable, and attentive. 

5. Thank donors for every contribution.

The fundraising campaign shouldn’t end when you receive a donation. In every other situation where you receive a gift, a thank you is appreciated. Donations are no different!

Thanking your donor for their contributions helps them build a stronger connection to your cause, lets them know that they are appreciated, and makes them more likely to give again in the future.

To get started, check out our arsenal of free donor thank-you letters! And when you need to get those letters produced and mailed, GivingMail can help.