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3 Ways A Nonprofit CRM Can Improve Your Direct Mail Appeals

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There is a little known secret behind the world of direct mail marketing. That is the use of a CRM or constituent relationship management system to maximize your campaign and get the most out of your donors. 

A nonprofit CRM allows you to collect and store large quantities of data from your donors and increase the personalized aspects of your letters. When using a CRM, you can optimize and leverage things like donor profiles, effective communication skills, and fundraising data. In doing this, you can use the data your CRM produces to maximize your campaign’s productivity and conversion rates. 

However, it’s important that you select the best fit system for your nonprofit. Choosing an effective CRM will lead to better overall performance of your campaigns and allow you to leverage your donor data to its maximum capacity. If you use your CRM correctly and choose the right fit for your organization, you will reap the benefits of direct mail for nonprofit fundraising appeals

Companies like GivingMail can help put together an effective nonprofit direct mail marketing strategy for your organization. They’ve put together a few guidelines to help you maximize direct mail appeals as an overall component of your overall fundraising strategy.

Here are three specific ways that a nonprofit CRM can help improve your direct mail appeals: 

  1. Collect and organize data insights
  2. Create detailed supporter profiles
  3. Help you better connect with your donors

Now that we know what a nonprofit CRM is and how you can use it to benefit your campaign, let’s dive into the ways in which it can improve your direct mail appeals. 

1. Collect and organize data insights.

The first step to improving your direct mail appeals is being able to effectively use all of the data stored in your donor management system. 

The data your CRM collects can help you locate areas with room for improvement in your overall fundraising strategy. After you review your data tables and reports, you may begin to notice patterns within the data. 

These types of patterns tend to be either problems within your strategy or commonalities between your donors. If you find problems within your campaign, make sure to fix them as soon as possible. If you find commonalities, this may improve your campaign even more. 

For example, you can leverage specific donor data to help you segment supporters and place individuals in like-minded groups. This can greatly improve the effectiveness of your direct mail appeals and lead to better returns overall.

Plus, most CRM software comes equipped with hundreds of ready-made reports and templates to help you draw these insights and determine patterns with just a few clicks. 

2. Create detailed supporter profiles.

Now that you have begun collecting and organizing your data, the next step is to build supporter profiles. A supporter profile is essentially a collection of data on one of your supporters which provides detailed information about their interests and habits. In creating one of these profiles, you gain the ability to market to them with more precision and accuracy. 

When you build a profile for each supporter, try to make it as immensely detailed as possible by collecting information further than just their name and email address. For example, consider making note of the donor’s:

  • Birthday
  • Nickname (or preferred name)
  • Family status
  • Pet’s name
  • Connection to other supporters
  • Engagement history
  • Geographic location
  • Employer

In doing this, you create a more personalized profile which will lead to targeted appeals and higher retention rates. You can even send your donor a birthday card to show your care!

3. Help you better connect with your donors.

The best way to maximize your data is to make every appeal as personable as possible. The easiest way to do this is by implementing storytelling strategies that leverage specific donor data points. Storytelling is a proven method to increase donor engagement, and combining it with a personalized data set will improve your direct mail appeals exponentially. 

To get started, be sure to include powerful impact or success stories from constituents or community members your organization has supported. This allows donors to attach their action with a story, not only improving their engagement but also increasing their likelihood of giving. 

Make sure your story is engaging and keeps the supporter’s attention. It should be short and to the point, while also hinting towards something that will likely resonate with their donor profile. For example, if you know that a donor contributed to your previous campaign, you can include a story about a specific individual who was impacted.

Then, once you’ve laid the groundwork, you must incorporate a creative way to make the ask. When it comes to connecting with donors and soliciting their support, be sure to keep three things in mind: 

  • Personalize your ask- When making the ask, be sure to reach out through the donor’s preferred methods and acknowledge past donations. This personalization can help you build deeper connections with supporters that go beyond their wallets.
  • Create a sense of urgency- If you create a sense of urgency within your ask your donors are significantly more likely to give, even if they were on the fence in the first place. For example, saying “Donate $X today to feed Y hungry families in your community” is more urgent than “Help us feed the hungry.”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask again.- Just remember—the more you ask, the more you’re likely to get! Multiple strategic fundraising asks can be a great way to increase support and overall engagement. 

It’s important to recognize that building long-term relationships with supporters should go  beyond just sending donation requests. If all you send are fundraising appeals, your supporters will feel like nothing more than an ATM machine. Make sure to work in other types of communication, like emails about the impact or outcomes you experienced on a specific program, information about upcoming events, and stories from the people you serve.  


All in all, a nonprofit CRM is an immensely important tool when utilizing direct mail appeals in your marketing and fundraising campaigns. When you implement a CRM effectively, you can collect invaluable data insights, create detailed supporter profiles, and build long-term relationships with your donors.

In doing this, you can maximize the success of your direct mail campaign along with your overall fundraising strategy. Good luck!

This guest post was written by Grant Cobb. Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.