Direct mail: yay or nay?

It’s 2022 – nobody reads their mail, right? 

Believe it or not, that’s not necessarily true. calls direct mail “the workhorse of fundraising” and states that a few years ago, response rates for

  • email averaged around 0.1%, 
  • paid search averaged 0.6%, and 
  • online display marketing averaged 0.2%.

But direct mail – despite its seeming irrelevance in today’s digital world – averaged response rates of 5.3%. 

Not convinced yet? There are some more reasons to not ditch your branded envelopes just yet. 

Direct mail is more personal than its digital counterparts.

People want to connect with others. And social media can certainly provide a sense of togetherness and community. However, it can also feel impersonal, as the same messages are seen by so many other people. 

Feeling like just another number isn’t always the best motivation to support a cause. 

This is one reason why direct mail can make such an impact. Including the name of your receiver at the beginning of your letter and the name and signature of your organization’s leader at the end of your letter makes it personal. It might seem small, but the small things are often what stand out to people.

Not only is your reader more likely to read your content when it’s sent through direct mail, this deeper level of interaction furthers brand awareness. This results in greater buy-in and more committed brand advocates.

Direct mail is viewed by many as being the most trustworthy type of marketing.

Maybe there’s just something about ripping open a physical piece of mail that takes you back to being a kid and getting a Christmas card from your grandma. Or maybe you’d prefer to see a physical signature from a nonprofit leader at the bottom of a page of paper than a well-meaning social media post asking for your help.

For various reasons, people tend to view direct mail marketing as trustworthy. 

That’s something your nonprofit should NOT ignore.

In a world full of brands that over promise and under deliver, your organization has the chance to stand out simply by doing exactly what you say you’ll do. Honesty is refreshing, and direct mail is one way to build trust with your supporters. 

Direct mail is more unique and offers fewer competitors every day.

You don’t want to cling to methods that don’t work, but as we’ve established, direct mail DOES work. 

And as with any and every other marketing piece, what you want is a message that stands out from the crowd. That’s what will keep your brochure, annual report, or fundraising letter out of the trash before being read. 

Don’t, however, ditch everything else for the sake of direct mail. Marketing of all sorts works best when done together, and direct mail is no different. 

Another plus of direct mail? Fewer organizations are bothering with direct mail.

This gives you an opportunity to compete more directly with other nonprofits and to stand out by sending direct mail at all.

The conclusion? Give direct mail a try; you might just be surprised at the strength of your results.