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Opening Doors, Inspiring Action with Print and Mail

inspiring action with print

How to harness the impact of direct mail for nonprofits and churches

Direct mail and printed marketing are especially valuable tools for nonprofits and churches. Print and mail campaigns help these organizations connect with target audiences, build relationships, and inspire action. It’s important to be intentional throughout the process, from starting in the right mailboxes to tracking results.

The benefits of print and direct mail go well beyond business.

direct mail

The benefits of direct mail for nonprofits and churches are similar to businesses. Yet, personalized print campaigns can strike a stronger chord with these audiences because of deep-seated connections between the recipients and the message.

Direct mail is tangible and personal. Mail helps nonprofits and churches make a physical connection with their audience. Receiving a personalized letter or brochure creates a sense of importance and engages recipients in a way that digital communication often cannot replicate.

Direct mail can be highly targeted. Successful campaigns target specific segments of the audience with tailored messaging. By tracking their recipients' interests, demographics, and donation history, nonprofits and churches can craft appeals that resonate, increasing the likelihood of a positive response.

Direct mail has increased credibility. Direct mail has a reputation for being trustworthy, particularly when compared to digital marketing methods that can be susceptible to spam filters and fraud. Nonprofits and churches can leverage this trust to establish credibility and build stronger relationships with their supporters.

Hmm, what should I send?

Certain kinds of direct mail campaigns, of course, are more appropriate to the audiences of churches and nonprofits, such as donation appeals, newsletters, and invitations to events and services.

Donation Appeals. Nonprofits can use direct mail to solicit donations for specific annual campaigns or highlight the impact of previous contributions. Include personalized stories, compelling visuals, and a clear call to action to motivate recipients to contribute. An affordable housing organization could send a direct mail piece featuring images of unhoused people waiting for placement, past recipient success stories, a clear fundraising goal, and various giving options.

Always include a prepaid, pre-addressed reply envelope with any fundraising letters you send to streamline the process and help the recipient donate without any roadblocks. Including a QR code on your piece is another avenue to drive instant giving via mobile devices.

Read more here about another important nonprofit mailing—the donor acknowledgment letter.

Event Invitations. Churches can use direct mail to invite members and the wider community to special events and worship services. Including details about the event, testimonials from previous attendees, and a warm personal message can encourage attendance. Nonprofits offer all kinds of events and can segment their mailings by donors, volunteers, potential participants, or neighbors near the event location.

Newsletters and Updates.


Nonprofits and churches can keep their supporters informed through direct mail newsletters. Newsletters can provide updates on recent projects and upcoming events. Include impact stories and clear next steps for involvement. People love to see themselves in their community, so take many photos at gatherings and feature names and faces in your publications. You can also keep an online gallery and refer people to it for more community photos.

Tracking direct mail results will help you build on success.

To measure the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns, nonprofits, and churches can employ several tracking methods. Measuring a campaign’s return on investment (ROI) is essential to optimize future efforts. This data-driven approach—which EMCO happens to specialize in—enables organizations to make informed decisions, refine their strategies, and keep iterating for improved results.

  1. A unique code or URL on each direct mail piece allows organizations to track responses and donations attributed to the specific campaign. This method provides valuable insights into the success of the mailing. By comparing the cost of the campaign to the funds raised, you can calculate the campaign's ROI.

  2. Remember: not everyone prefers text and email. Including a specific phone number for recipients to call can help track campaign-generated inquiries and conversions. Calling is a very effective way to connect with older, more resourced community members. You can also use response cards and surveys, especially for church regular members who are likely to drop them off at their weekly service.

  3. A customer relationship management (CRM) system or donor management software helps track and monitor engagement levels, donation history, and campaign-specific metrics. Use your existing tracking systems to monitor any increase in engagement from recipients targeted by the direct mail campaign. Monitor metrics such as volunteer sign-ups, event attendance, and recurring donations. Comparing current engagement levels to pre-campaign benchmarks will give you a sense of the campaign's impact on deepening supporter involvement.

  4. Calculate the cost-per-donor acquired through the direct mail campaign to determine the efficiency of your fundraising efforts. Divide the total cost of the campaign by the number of new donors acquired, providing a clear understanding of the resources invested in obtaining each new supporter.

By leveraging the unique qualities of direct mail within a comprehensive marketing strategy, nonprofits and churches can establish trust, convey their mission effectively, and drive meaningful action. With careful planning, targeted messaging, and robust tracking, direct mail hits the target every time.


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