To Junk Mail, or Not to Junk Mail…Is That the Question?

Listen: there’s a grassroots rebellion against direct mail marketing. For example, CatalogChoice.Org, a nonprofit “do not send” registry for consumers and companies who want to stem the flood of unwanted catalogs and other junk mail they receive, has served more than a million individuals and businesses since its founding in 2007.

And while — at least from your viewpoint — your planned giving newsletter is anything but junk mail, to your prospect, it’s just part of the daily avalanche of unwelcome arrivals. And that means it’s quite likely your messaging is going straight from the mailbox to the recycling bin, or — even worse — triggering an aggravated prospect to put your nonprofit on a “do not send” list.

So, how do you get your message through to your audience? How do you avoid sending junk mail?

Be the Welcome Guest Instead of an Annoying Pest

  • Know your audience — filter your mailing list to identify prospects who will be interested by what they receive. (This means learning about your prospects and forming relationships!)
  • Send mail with an appearance markedly different from commonly used direct mail formats. For instance, hand-write addresses (or have volunteers write them) instead of printing them on envelopes, and use an actual paper stamp.
  • Focus on composing and delivering the right message. The significance of graphic design, font and type size, colors, etc. is important for readability and maintaining your brand, but having the right message is critical.

Even with resistance, direct mail is still, by far, the No. 1 way your prospects want to hear from you! These days, everyone gets an overwhelming amount of emails. That means they are treated like junk mail and generally ignored — sent straight to the trash, or flagged to go straight into the spam folder. Consider these figures:

  • In the commercial world, $1 spent on media advertising returns $5 in sales
  • But a $1 investment in direct mail returns $7 to $15.

Learn from and copy the experts (you should already be running your nonprofit like a business)! Create a planned giving marketing plan to guide your efforts, maximize your success and help you avoid sending junk mail.

Finally, remember that not all direct mail is created equal. Read about Overkill Marketing.

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