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Looks good on paper: Direct mail to grow your endowment

Stacks of multicolored paper, representing direct mail campaigns.

As a nonprofit, two constants you likely face are (1) more demand for your services and (2) rising operating costs. Fundraising can help satisfy the "more demand" part of this equation, but that typically requires more budget, which means more marketing and… well, you get the point.

The community foundation team is your partner. We are here to help you grow your endowment or other fund at the community foundation in both traditional and creative ways. That means we're here to help you accept and administer gifts of complex assets, such as closely held stock and real estate, as well as help your board understand the importance of an endowment and best practices for investment and spending policies to ensure that your mission stays strong for generations. 

In the spirit of celebrating traditional ways to grow your endowment, let's revisit a tried-and-true fundraising method: direct mail. You're likely well aware that in any type of sales, fundraising or otherwise, multiple touchpoints are typically required to make an impression–especially when your goal is to inspire a donor to support your endowment with a major or planned gift. Direct mail is a useful tactic to help diversify your multidimensional endowment-building fundraising program. 

To that end, you might be surprised to learn that many nonprofits are exploring ways to offset rising marketing and fundraising costs and increases in postal rates (even for nonprofits) by asking donors or vendors to sponsor an occasional or ongoing direct mail program to boost the nonprofit's endowment. 

If this technique sparks your interest, here are a few potential in-kind supporters of your next direct mail campaign:

  • A local supplier of paper – stationery and envelopes – who may have surplus paper stock remaining from another project or who can negotiate a favorable rate from a wholesaler or manufacturer. 
  • A local print production or mail house that does the actual printing and mailing. Perhaps they can reduce pricing to a per-piece rate that satisfactorily covers their labor and overhead. 
  • A generous donor who can cover your organization's hard costs from their donor-advised fund at the community foundation. Though it may at first blush seem a reach, there likely are donors who will appreciate the intention and purposefulness behind your ask, knowing that the mailing's results may help cover the increased costs that come with more demand for your overall services. And, some may appreciate a line or two of donor recognition on the piece, which can be subtle yet impactful. 

Please reach out to the community foundation to dig deeper into this idea. We are happy to help strategize creative ideas, which in turn will help fulfill your organization's mission for years to come. 

This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

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