Direct Mail

11 top tips for making your fundraising direct mail great

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
February 20 2019,
July 13 2020

We get to create some fantastic charity direct mail. Clever, beautiful and, critically, effective. While we’re happy to take credit for the production and distribution (and sometimes the design) much of that credit is due to clients and their smart copywriting. Between talking to them, reading what other experts say, and throwing in nuggets from our own experience, we’ve put together our tips and ideas to make your fundraising direct mail pop!

  1. Be personal – obviously. Using the first name as an opener, and throughout, helps set a friendly tone. It also helps replicate a one-to-one, face-to-face conversation.
  1. Be unique - choose imagery likely to be more appealing to their gender, age-group, etc. If you know about past donations - how they donated, how much and how frequently – that can also be used to personalise and achieve something unique and which resonates.
  1. Be grateful – if you’re writing to an existing or past donor, be sure to thank them sincerely and remind them of just how valuable their contribution was. Writing to them as if they’ve never given before will make them feel any past contribution may have been wasted.
  1. Be a storyteller – your organisation itself is way less interesting than both those you help, and your patrons and supporters. Be donor-centric. Tell heart-warming, feel-good stories about real people and events, these are most likely to strike a chord.
  1. Be revealing – it’s believed that sharing how much others have given leads to bigger and more frequent gifts from average donors.
  1. Be humble – don’t be verbose and use long words for their own sake. You might sound clever but it’s very likely to turn off the reader. The donor is the hero here, not you!
  1. Be skimmable – use bullet-points, short sentences and particularly underlining to draw the reader’s eye to key messages.
  1. Be tactile – use textured materials and substrates, interesting finishes such as matt-lamination or laser-cutting. The longer the donor holds on to it, turns it over, runs his fingers over it and interacts with the piece, the more likely he or she is to donate.
  1. Be noticeable – be stand-out in the mailbox – a different or unusual format, shape or size, draws attention and distracts from more mundane pieces received at the same time.
  1. Be clear – make it absolutely clear what you’re asking for. For fundraising calls-to-action (CTAs) as with any other kind you need to leave the recipient in no doubt as to their next course of action. One CTA is never enough. Repeat it throughout the piece.
  1. Be repetitive – the pronoun “you” needs to be used…a LOT.


Talk to us if you’re looking to put together an appeal or campaign and need some guidance. We’d love to help!

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