Skip to main content

Charities and the Resurgence of Direct Mail

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak businesses including charities are finding themselves with a much greater need to communicate – ranging from regulatory requirements to asking for support.

With the consumption of digital media at an all-time high, the ability to literally get your brand and your message into someone’s hand should not be underestimated. Printed, personalised physical communication represents a way for organisations to cut through the digital noise, reach their audience effectively and deliver a real return on investment.


Direct mail for charities

According to Charity Times, “Charities are facing a £10.1bn funding gap over the next six months as a result of the financial impact caused by Covid-19.” (Read more here) Additionally in a survey conducted by Pro Bono Economics, it was revealed that “88% expect Covid-19 to reduce their income over the coming six months relative to pre-crisis plans.”

With many conventional fundraising methods being off the table at the moment, such as face to face engagement and street fundraisers, charities should consider a greater use of direct mail to maintain contact with donors and supporters to sustain relationships and bring in revenue. Physical mail has always been, and should remain, a key element of the communication mix for charities when fundraising or communicating with donors / supporters.


“Mail remains a critical medium for charities in today’s fast paced omni-channel world. It allows charities to put a targeted personal message directly into the hands of their chosen audience. It offers charities an unmatched ability to tell their story and guide donors to engage further, whether that means going online for more information, making a donation via post, phone or online or strengthening donor relationships.”

– Stephen Agar, MD Letters, Royal Mail


How is direct mail used for fundraising?

The strength of mail lies in its ability to build engagement and deepen relationships with donors. For example, charities know the importance of thanking donors / supporters for their generosity. A simple, yet elegant heartfelt message from the charity will make the donor feel valued for their support and can help with donor retention.


Source – Market Reach – A Guide to Using Mail for Fundraising.


Direct mail has a variety of uses for charities, such as;

  • Appealing for funds to their current donor list. (It is also an excellent way to re-engage contact with lapsed donors)
  • Reaching and recruiting of new donors / supporters. This can include, providing information of upcoming events at both a local and national level
  • Giving donors / supporters the opportunity to “take the next step.” Such as a subscription-based program or membership to help generate a regular source of donation
  • Seasonal charity catalogues
  • Lotteries and raffles


Increasing engagement: data and personalisation.

While it may be tempting to focus your efforts soley on digital communication channels, there are steps you can take to increase the return on investment of your direct mail campaigns.

By personalising the communication you send out, you are both increasing the overall chance of engagement as well as giving the audience the chance to engage more meaningfully with the content of your mailing.

According to a report by SmarterHQ, 72% of consumers say that they only engage with personalised communication with personalised communications resulting in better ROI. You can capitalise on this by taking the time to understand and segment the data you hold on your audience.

By segmenting your data, you are able to personalise your mailing for your specific target audience. Factors (if available) such as age, gender, location, marital status etc. can all be taken into consideration when creating your specific target mailing lists and content.

For example, by segmenting your data and adjusting content based on criteria within your data, you can create different messages for different demographics, or personalise specific aspects of a communication within the same campaign, at scale. This has the benefit of not only being more likely to deliver better return, but is also likely to be more cost effective.

The key point to note is to not simply stop your direct mail campaigns, such as acquisition mailings, if you’re not seeing the returns you expect immediately but to refine your audiences, personalise and tailor your content to achieve maximum engagement.

Mail has always had the potential to deliver great return on investment on fundraising and charitable communications, however you are likely to see the best return when the time is taken to understand your data, tailor your messages and deliver a personalised communication.


About us

At Forth have helped many businesses refine and deliver personalised communications driven by data. If you would like to understand more about how we can help you during this time please do not hesitate to get in touch here, or by emailing







Erik Stenersen
Business Process Analyst

©2021 Forth and/or affiliates. All Rights Reserved.