Fundraising Through Direct Mail

Direct mail is commonly used among nonprofits and charities for fundraising initiatives, but many of these marketers assume that such campaigns are essentially the same as for-profit or business-related causes. This is a mistake.

Consider Brian Mullaney, a philanthropist and charity director, for example. He is currently raising $25 million to distribute some 200 million pieces of direct mail for charities that support research on clubfeet, burns, holes in the heart, cataracts and hydrocephalus, according to Time magazine.

It may sound like a lofty goal, but in 2009 alone, the source reports, Mullaney was able to raise more than $91 million – mostly through direct mail – for an organization that fixes cleft palates for individuals who cannot afford such operations.

So what's the trick? Other than a good old-fashioned knack for fundraising, it may come down to simple copywriting. Direct mail materials should be friendly and informal and use plenty of connecting words to maintain a consistent flow, suggests Alan Sharpe for the blog Fundraising Letters.

"Feel free to start your sentences with connectors (and, but, so, that’s why, in other words)," Sharpe writes. "Because they give your letter momentum and keep your reader reading. Write the way you talk. Which is to say, informally. Conversationally. Friendly-like."

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