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Integrating Direct Mail with Online Fundraising: A Guide

Integrating Direct Mail with Online Fundraising: A Guide

The recent troubles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may have led to a dip in your fundraising numbers. Now more than ever, your nonprofit should focus on strategies to maximize your fundraising abilities. 

Multi-channel fundraising approaches, or campaigns that utilize different media channels to reach donors, are more likely to lead to fundraising success because they allow you to spread your net as wide as possible. Different channels naturally have different target audiences, so when you use these different channels strategically, you can set your organization up to expand your reach.

At GivingMail, we’re firm believers in the efficacy of direct mail fundraising, even in today’s digital age. After all, direct mail for nonprofits continues to account for 70% of individual donations, so it would be in your organization’s best interest to include direct mail in your fundraising campaigns. 

Still, using direct mail and online channels simultaneously requires some care and attention to ensure your campaign is unified and effective. In this guide, we’ll go through three ways you can integrate your direct mail and online fundraising efforts: 

  1. Maintain consistent branding throughout different channels 
  2. Drive traffic to your online donation page 
  3. Collect and analyze offline and online giving data 

With this guide, you’re sure to have the tools you need to create an awesome multi-channel campaign. Let’s get started. 

1. Maintain consistent branding throughout different channels

With a combined direct mail and online fundraising campaign, you’ll likely be utilizing several channels to reach your supporters. In addition to your direct mail appeals, different online channels you may use include: 

  • Email 
  • Social media 
  • Text 
  • Online

With so many venues for interacting with your supporters to garner donations, it’s vital that your nonprofit maintain consistent branding throughout. 

The Visuals

The look and feel of your nonprofit’s public-facing platforms should be easily recognized as belonging to your organization. Making sure your branding is consistent will: 

  • Reduce confusion. When you’re using multiple channels to fundraise, the last thing you want is for donors to be confused. An identical logo, font type, and similar colors across all of your communications will make sure your donors always know where they are and who you are. You may even consider including these elements on the outside of your direct mail envelopes so donors know who the mail is from from the get-go. 
  • Increase trust. Brands with a consistent identity across channels are more likely to be trusted by donors than those without one.
  • Increase cohesion. Because visual cues are rapidly taken in and understood, the more consistent your branding is the more likely your multiple touchpoints are to be recognized as being from the same organization and campaign.
  • Increase awareness. With your logo and colors firmly attached to your organization and its mission, you can spread awareness easily with just the visual aspect of your brand, allowing for rapid recognition and association with your cause. 

To help facilitate brand recognition and cohesion, it may be helpful for your organization to design a branding guide that clearly outlines the main aspects of your brand, including your approved colors and typography guidelines. That way, your entire organization will have access to the defined brand identity, meaning you’ll never end up with incorrectly branded materials. 

The Language

While the visual aspect of branding is an important component of your fundraising success, it’s also important to keep the same brand messaging across all of your channels. 

“Messaging” refers to the content and tone of the copy that appears on these channels. Aspects of your messaging strategy include your mission statement, vision statement, and the case for support you present on all of your platforms. As we detail in our GivingMail guide to fundraising letters, your appeals should all clearly outline your cause and contain compelling stories to appeal to your donors’ empathetic sides. 

Across every platform, the essential elements of these should be the same, especially within the same fundraising campaign. Keeping your messaging consistent makes sure your donors firmly understand your cause, the need, and the reasons why they should donate. 

Still, that doesn’t mean you should copy and paste the exact words from each channel onto the next. In fact, you should alter your copy depending on the channel. For example, text message appeals will be much shorter and more casual than your direct mail fundraising letters, and your Facebook posts shouldn’t just be an exact replica of your fundraising emails. Appropriately adjust your copy to fit the channel and its audience, but keep the essentials the same to maximize your campaign’s impact.

2. Drive traffic to your online donation page

While direct mail is an effective way to fundraise on its own, one way you can maximize your donations is to drive traffic from your direct mail audience to your organization’s online donation page. After all, many donors who open your direct mail appeals will prefer to respond with an online donation, especially as checkbooks and cash become less frequently used. 

Including CTAs (or calls to action) directing users to your online fundraising efforts makes sure you capture the attention of the direct mail audience and offer them an alternative way to give. This way, you can maximize the donations you garner from direct mail appeals. 

For example, consider including the following in your mailing: 

  • A text-to-give number and keyword. Because smartphones are so prevalent these days, odds are many of your donors will be close to their phones when they receive your fundraising letters. Take advantage of the convenience of texting by promoting your text-to-give number and keyword in your fundraising letters.
  • Online donation form URL. Include the URL for your organization’s online donation page in your letters. Make sure it’s not too long or complicated, which would dissuade your audience from going to the effort to type it in. (Tip: don’t include links to your general website or social media pages. You don’t want potential donors getting distracted by your organization’s other content and forgetting to donate!)
  • QR code. A scannable QR code that takes donors to your online donation form is an innovative way to harness smartphone technology to minimize the time it takes to donate. Without having to type in your URL manually, accessing your online donation form will be more convenient for your donors. 

Because you’ll be driving donors to your online donation page, it’s wise to make sure your donation page is first optimally designed to maximize conversions. For example, you’ll want to prioritize simplicity, clarity, and ease-of-use. Keep required fields to a minimum so it will be more convenient for donors to complete the form. Remember, you can always find out more about your supporters after they’ve donated! If you’re not sure where to start, Cornershop Creative’s list of best nonprofit websites can point you in the right direction. 

Finally, to further integrate your direct mail and online efforts, include a space on your physical donation form for mail-in givers to write their email addresses. That way, you can make sure your direct mail audience is also accessible via online means, maximizing the touchpoints each donor will receive for future campaigns. 

3. Collect and analyze offline and online giving data

Along with every fundraising campaign come many useful data points you’ll want to store, track, and analyze to draw insights about the efficacy of your fundraising efforts. Doing so can help you understand where your organization’s fundraising strengths and weaknesses are and inform your future campaigns. 

Tracking your fundraiser’s data can not only tell you how the fundraiser did on the whole, but it can also tell you more granular details about your donors’ habits that can help you assess (and improve) your direct mail and online fundraising efforts. For example, for donors who receive a direct mail appeal, you’ll want to know how donors are driven to give: which donors use reply envelopes, access your website’s URL to donate, or scan your QR code? 

To determine this information, try a couple of different methods: 

  • Record traffic originating from your QR code 
  • Include an optional field on your online donation form for donors to enter the communication type they received that encouraged them to donate 

Tracking these details allows you to hone your appeals to best target your donors. Then, tracking the response rate of your direct mail channel as a whole can help you decide how to allocate funds in your multi-channel approach next time.

Regardless of exactly which figures you want to track in your multi-channel campaign, you’ll likely need the assistance of nonprofit database software. A donor database allows you to store the information from your campaigns and automatically track information, analyze data, and report essential metrics regarding your campaigns. A good CRM allows your nonprofit to become more efficient, data-driven, and successful at furthering your cause. Our guide to donor management software can give you some more details on what to look for in a CRM system. 

When you’re planning your next fundraising campaign, make sure to prioritize a multi-channel approach so you can reach more donors and boost giving. Direct mail is an essential channel to include in your strategy—just be sure to integrate your campaigns across channels by maintaining a consistent brand voice and driving traffic to your online efforts with your direct mail fundraising letters

After your campaign is over, don’t miss out on the opportunity to analyze your data for useful insights—you never know what wisdom your database software will uncover. Best of luck!