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Direct Marketing » Tips & Facts, Best Practice | 30.10.2015

How charities can use direct mail to bring out a donor's humanity


In today's multi-channel marketing world, it can be hard for charities to keep up. They have to compete with huge businesses with wide profit margins and limitless resources in an increasingly fragmented market. Luckily, charities have a secret weapon at their disposal: their ability to form meaningful, lasting, emotional bonds with their donors.

Charities exist to aid causes and help people, the relationship between a donor and a charity has deeper emotional roots and can be a lot more powerful than that between a business and a paying customer. That's not to say that businesses can't form good relationships with their customers, only that charities have a distinct edge when it comes to creating that bond. But what's the best way for charities to take advantage of this? The answer is direct mail.

Roger Lawson, the Strategy and Planning Director at Cascaid, recently explained why a charity's direct mail is such a vital part of any campaign it runs. "In terms of building relationships through newsletters, for example, hard copy tends to work best", he explains. He goes on to point out that if existing or potential donors receive physical mail from a charity "it is more likely to sit on the coffee table and get read" than if the same content was distributed by other means. In other words, the relationship between a charity and a donor needs to be fuelled by content that the donor is more likely to actually read.

The simple fact is that many of the issues charities seek to address are uncomfortable; they're not the kind of things people enjoy thinking about. Whether a charity is raising money to fight cancer or to rehouse abused animals, their greatest barrier is the natural human reluctance to confront painful subjects. However, once people do confront these issues, most of the time their instincts are to help. Direct mail places a physical reminder of both the issue in question and what a potential donor can do about it inside their house, which makes it harder to ignore.

If you run a charity, your greatest asset is your prospective donor's conscience and humanity. Direct mail is still the best way of bringing that out.


For a little more information on the effectiveness of direct mail, see one of our previous posts here.