Although technology has forever altered the way people communicate, there’s still something particularly special about receiving a letter in the mail. You see the envelope addressed with your name and get a thrill of anticipation, imagining the possibilities of what could be inside.
That’s why direct mail is so important for nonprofits—you can reach supporters on a personal level to earn their support for your fundraisers and other activities. Regardless of whether your team is using direct mail appeals for the first time or simply looking for a refresher, hosting a dedicated training session can help you take this marketing and fundraising channel to the next level.
At GivingMail, we specialize in helping nonprofit professionals maximize their use of direct mail appeals by offering a dedicated platform for designing and implementing direct mail campaigns. Thanks to our years of expertise, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips for training your team to conduct direct mail messaging:
- Incorporate virtual training resources
- Leverage fundraising appeal templates
- Equip your team with the tools they need to learn
- Work with a dedicated direct mail platform
By crafting a strategic approach to direct mail appeals, your nonprofit team can incorporate this approach with other marketing channels such as email and social media to enhance future fundraising and marketing campaigns. Let’s take a closer look at these strategies.
1. Incorporate virtual training resources
Many nonprofits are moving previously in-person training sessions to online platforms as a way to encourage team members to learn and grow in their roles. Virtual training is the perfect avenue to get your team members up-to-speed with direct mail appeals because it is:
- Convenient: Team members can work on training courses whenever their schedule allows. Plenty of people prefer digital learning to in-person training because of the ability to take their education into their own hands.
- Accessible: Your staff members can log on from anywhere with an internet connection and access course materials using any device.
- Affordable: You don’t have to print materials, rent a venue, or purchase presentation equipment as you would for an in-person training session, making this a highly affordable option.
To educate your team, you can create online educational courses or host a complete virtual training session using a live streaming platform. You might consider bringing in a few guest speakers from other nonprofits to share with your team the success they’ve had with direct mail appeals and their strategy for using this platform.
In your direct mail training courses, be sure to highlight the benefits of this outreach method (personalization, direct communication, etc.) so team members have a clear understanding of its advantages and why you’re incorporating it on an organization-wide level.
2. Leverage fundraising appeal templates
Using templates to create your fundraising letters can be a great way to improve your direct mail efforts quickly and easily. You can standardize the letter-writing process and train your team to input specific pieces of information into your direct mail template. This way, you won’t have to start from scratch every time you want to launch a new direct mail campaign.
To get started, you can create your own template, or check out a few ideas in this guide to decide what you want to include in your direct mail letters. Your template should have the following components:
- Personalized greeting: Use the information in your constituent relationship management (CRM) system to find supporters’ preferred names to use in the greeting of each letter.
- Space for a compelling story: Stories are powerful marketing tools that can touch the hearts of your supporters and generate a sense of urgency surrounding your fundraising campaigns. Ensure your direct mail template includes a section for telling a vivid, specific story about a time your nonprofit helped someone thanks to donor funding.
- A call to action: Your letter should include a specific request for what you want the reader to do based on the goal of your campaign. You could request a specific donation amount or direct them to visit your online giving page.
Be sure to strike a warm, friendly, and conversational tone in your letters. Also, don’t forget to include multiple mentions of where people can donate or connect with your organization.
In your training sessions, you can brainstorm with your team to create a direct mail template for your own nonprofit, then have team members practice creating your fundraising letters. Team members will be able to take ownership and pride over these letters and know how to adjust them to fit future campaigns.
3. Equip your team with the tools they need to learn
Beyond offering one-off training courses or live streamed webinar sessions for your nonprofit team, you can equip them with a system that fosters ongoing learning and development. Learning management software can give your organization a centralized place to house not only your direct mail training but also any additional educational needs that arise. The benefits of investing in a learning management system are numerous. These systems offer:
- Self-paced learning: Team members likely have a ton of other tasks on their plate and will appreciate the ability to work through educational content at their own speed.
- Standardization of existing training systems: You can store current training materials in one location and ensure all materials are cohesive.
- Peer-to-peer communication channels: An important part of the learning process is facilitating discussion among team members so they can better absorb the information they receive. Learning management software offers features like discussion boards to enhance this necessary communication.
- A dedicated platform to build future educational materials: Investing in a learning management system allows your team to have a standardized process for uploading new educational materials. Plus, when it’s time for another training session, your team members will already have access to the system and understand how to use it.
If your organization is committed to providing ongoing opportunities for team members to learn and grow as leaders within your nonprofit, learning management software will set you up for future success. These systems help equip your team members with a better understanding of your organization and what it takes to run a nonprofit in general, allowing them to contribute more specialized skills to your cause.
4. Work with a dedicated direct mail platform
After you educate your team on the importance of direct mail appeals and create your letter template, your staff members will likely have to return to work on their specific tasks. If you don’t have the manpower to print, pack, and send your own direct mail appeals, this is when a direct mail partner can come in handy.
With vendors dedicated to direct mail for nonprofits like GivingMail, you can create optimized direct mail appeals that strengthen your fundraising campaigns while actually saving you money. Because a direct mail vendor bundles every aspect of the mailing process from print to postage to mailing, you won’t have to worry about purchasing and carrying out each individual piece of the process.
Plus, your direct mail partner will offer options for all types of appeals, from fundraising asks to volunteer or event sign-ups. You’ll have a centralized system from which you can launch each of these different campaigns with ease.
You’re probably not a direct mail expert, and you don’t have to be. Dedicated direct mail professionals will help with all the details, from figuring out the type of paper to use to choosing the right colors, to make sure your campaign has the greatest chance of success. Your team will be able to focus more energy and attention on pursuing your mission and changing the world.
By giving your team the information they need to know about direct mail campaigns, you can start incorporating this effective marketing and fundraising opportunity into your nonprofit strategy.
Yet even the most carefully crafted direct mail appeals are not likely to succeed in a vacuum. For an even greater impact, you can match the language in your direct mail letters to complement your digital marketing appeals such as your email newsletter or social media pushes. According to AccuData’s digital marketing guide, each platform can enhance and play off one another and reach different audiences for a magnified impact on your overall outreach efforts.
Investigate your options for learning management platforms and direct mail platforms to empower your team to use this method effectively and give your outreach efforts more of an edge. Good luck!