Direct Marketing Examples: Fundraising Mail Doesn't Have to be Expensive


Many smaller non-profits think their list is too small to afford a direct mail campaign. Technology is our friend and now with proper planning it is possible to deliver a great fundraising appeal and get great results even if your list size is not large.

This package not only looked great, but it succeeded in raising the $60,000 goal with an 8% response rate. With a list size of under 900, one might think you are pretty limited, but with some design tricks we developed this 6 x 9 envelope package and kept the production cost under $1,400. 

The strategies we used to raise $60,000 in a one month

  • It is all about the envelope baby! We used converted colored envelopes to save money while making a big impact. We had to be careful about how we designed them, but because they were color they leapt out of the mailbox.
  • Who doesn't want a free gift. The blue inserts are actually black and white photo copies on colored paper. A gift doesn't have to be big or random (like reply address labels). These prayer guides aligned with the mission of the organization and made recipients feel good about reciprocating the generosity. Even if this doesn't result in a gift, it plants seeds that could sprout in the future.
  • Reply cards were personalized. I still see so many appeals requiring donors to fill out address. Even if the argument could be made that most will give online anyway, it doesn't hold much water. If you are personalizing with contact information it takes almost nothing to make the messaging on the reply device personal. In this appeal, new donors are asked differently than prospective donors, monthly donors are asked differently than one-time donors. Personalization is proven to improve your response. Use it to get better results.
  • Strong sense of urgency. The match gift provided the incentive to act and helps donors who think their gift is too small feel like their gift will go farther. 

Don't limit your match gifts potential

I have seen too many match gifts that are exclusively for new donations. New donors are wonderful to report on, but the downside is that they can unintentionally penalizes current donors.

Because monthly gifts are the gifts that keep on coming – we tripled the match for new monthly donors. 23% of those who responded joined or increased their monthly gift with a very health 22% of our current monthly givers increasing their monthly gift. Who says direct mail doesn't impact online donors? 

See more images of this appeal and other examples by visiting our portfolio. 

Hopefully this inspires you to make your next mailing better even if your mailing size is not very big. 

The first step in creating good work is to create good goals. If you want help developing SMART goals, then click here for our free template that will get you started!

Download Free Template!



Posted in Results

Case Study on Our Email List Building Strategies

If every business could double their email list in the first quarter of the year, they would. Problem is there is no set formula to growing an email list that will work every single time.  But often times with some analysis, there are small changes that can make a big impact.

We noticed last year that the house list growth was stalled, and recommended to the client that we focus on growing the list more proactively in 2016. Their content strategy was strong, so we knew that it was a matter of better promoting the great content.

We also knew that it was time to improve their inbound marketing strategy. It was not good enough to just reach a higher number, but to nurture and convert them into leads for their awesome two-year program for leaders. 

The best way to grow your email list is to create quality content that your target audience chooses to access for themselves. Yes it takes more energy and time, but it will bear fruit. 

Here are a couple of strategies we tested that could help you grow your list size as well:

Popups are great tools for gathering people's information, but we didn't just ask them to sign up for our newsletter. Instead, we positioned it as something of value. We tested a variety of different messages in different places to determine what converts the best.


We created a free resources from existing content people could access in exchange for their email. This starts a relationship with subscriber that is completely automated. Our series has a 61% open rate and 42% click rate. Numbers are nice, but I have ancedotal evidence that this is shortening the cycle between when a leader joins the list and when they sign-up for their two-year program. 


We used Fishbowl Prizes, a great software for running online prize giveaways and collecting email addresses. We limited this to our online store as it felt a little off brand. So far it has generated the most names. What has surprised us it that the quality of names are significantly better than we expected. Since we are looking for quality not just quantity, we will continue to test to determine the value of these leads. 

The results

The list size grew in the first quarter as much as it did all of last year! We didn't expect to get there this quick, but now we can focus on other important goals.

If you would like other tips, tricks and ideas on generating new leads for your business then download our free ebook to learn more!

Download Tips Now


Posted in Results, Marketing

Nonprofit Marketing Agency Year-End Campaign Keeps Getting Better

Nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing hard work pay off.

Campaign results don't lie, and if the strategy is working, it can be seen.

We've just received the year-end giving numbers from one of our non-profit clients. We have been running their communication and fundraising efforts for five years, and when we've taken a look on the progress we have made together over the years we both were ecstatic.  

Since 2011, our non-profit client's fundraising efforts have tripled and increased by over 300 percent! 

Our secret formula

Our goal is to build on success– usually that starts by cutting back. In 2011 I cut their mailing list to 1/3 its original size. The money I saved in mailing and postage I reinvested in the quality of the mailing. Each year we have experimented and made improvements to our process. Our 2015 year-end campaigns used dynamic content connected to their giving records, and we increased the number of email asks by one.

Our 2015 results are not solely due to these changes, but I am sure it would not have been possible to get these results without the experimenting and tweaking we have done over the years.

Let's talk

Are you looking for better results from your efforts? I can't guarantee results, but I can recognize potential! Give me call 630.267.5092 extension 700 and lets schedule a time to review your last campaign results. Better results always start with planning.  


Posted in Results

How we re-energized an email marketing plan with one tiny tweak

Once an email marketing plan is set in motion, it’s easy to fall into habit and let some of the more minute details stagnate. Here’s what happened when we recently changed the “from” name in our client’s email campaign from the company name to the founder’s name.

The open rate increased by 30% compared to the previous mailing.
The open rate increased by 30% compared to the previous mailing.

The click-thru rate to the corresponding blog post increased by nearly 120%, the highest rate in five months.

Post views increased by 53% compared to the 8 month average, a 208% increase from the previous post.
Post views increased by 53% compared to the 8 month average, a 208% increase from the previous post.

213% increase compared to the past 8 month average.
Comments on the corresponding blog post increased 213% compared to the past 8 months. Compared to the previous post, they increased 1200%.

Social shares climbed 111%
Social shares climbed 111%

Even if you’re not due for an email marketing overhaul, always be experimenting. Try a different time of day to send. Try A/B subject line testing. Add an image to a text-heavy email. Add a lightbox sign up form to a high traffic page. The results may surprise you.


Get Your Free SEO Guide

We produced a free guide of the 17 SEO Myths You Should Leave behind in 2015. Downloading this guide will give you a better picture of the work we do at Spire2.

Download SEO Guide


Posted in Results, Email Marketing, E-Broadcaster

Top 3 Keys to Succeeding with Communications and Marketing in 2015

How often do you see this cycle?

1. Good idea
2. Create business
3. Realize that idea is not catching because of poor marketing and communications
4. Hire marketing firm
5. Fire marketing firm after 2 months
6. Return to step 4 with a different firm
7. Repeat with SEO firm
8. Repeat with design firm
9. Repeat with young start-up
10. Resign oneself to mediocrity

What is your most important investment in 2015?

When companies plan for marketing budgets, they plan for many different kinds of spending: print, digital, web design, etc.

But few plan for the one thing needed: time.

Coco Channel famously instructed:

Once you've dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.

This is absolutely true in marketing. There is no substitute for consistently investing time into your most important channels. If half of life is just showin' up, the other half is stickin' around 'til the end.

What time can accomplish (and some good statistics)

Last week we received the year-end giving numbers from one of our non-profit clients. We have been running their communication and fundraising efforts for four years. They were ecstatic with the results, as we were. The graph shows the annual percentage increase in year-end giving over the past three years.



2 Keys to Success in 2015

  1. Invest time
  2. Be consistent
  3. We did have three...then we took Coco's advice.


Posted in Results

Year-end Campaign Doubles Giving

It has been a thrilling year for our client, The Transforming Center. We launched a new website in July as part of the process of helping them build a solid electronic communication platform. It really bore fruit in our Christmas appeal – with the year-end giving doubling from the previous year. I haven't received a final analysis of the appeal, but I am pretty confident I will be celebrating again as I expect to see some real growth in new donors. Of course this is only one aspect of their development picture, and I can assure you there are many more hurdles to get over, but I am proud of the Spire2 team and want to celebrate the victories.

Posted in Results, News

It is all about the numbers


What we love about electronic communication (web development and email marketing) is that one gets real data on what is happening. If the strategy is working, it can be seen. If it is not working, the numbers don't lie. The Downtown Wheaton Association is great to work with because they are open to new ideas, they trust Spire2, and have been committed for the long haul. We were more than pleased when they asked us to provide them the numbers for their annual meeting. If you hear a horn tooting in the background while reading, we apologize.

  • Downtown Wheaton Association's website traffic increased 37% over the last year (20,000 eyeballs).

The Shoppers' Club email marketing program continues to flourish:

  • The last 5 campaigns had an average open rate of 52% (national average open rate is 19%).
  • Membership in the club has grown 190% in the past year.
  • Merchant participation increased with more than 27 merchants making submissions.

So how did we get these results? There are no shortcuts. It takes, time, effort and creativity. Growing a good list is hard work, but if one takes the time, it will deliver the results. Are we totally satisfied? Nope. I want better results. We are working on some ideas to bring more attention to all the good things that are going on in Downtown Wheaton. Stay tuned.

So are you getting the inside scoop on what is going on in Downtown Wheaton? Are you getting exclusive deals and offers from local businesses? Join the Downtown Wheaton Shoppers' Club right now!

Posted in Results, Email Marketing, News

Spire2 nominated for the 2011 Gammon Awards


Spire2 was nominated for the Wheaton Chamber of Commerces 2011 Gammon Awards for the work we did for the Downtown Wheaton Association.

As part of our Spire2's redevelopment of Spire2 recommended that the association start an email marketing program. Spire2 created the Downtown Wheaton Shoppers' Club program. This free club with a monthly newsletter creates a channel for the association to communicate on behalf of membership while enhancing the image of Downtown Wheaton. The club is also critical in driving traffic to the website to learn more about upcoming events and news from stores.

The results have been incredible. The first five campaigns averaged an open rate of 61.9%. The club grew almost 400% in the first 12 months and continues to grow with new members joining on a daily basis. "As other forms of advertising continue to be less effective, developing a house list has become a strategic move in helping us stay connected with Wheaton residents and those who are passionate about the value of shopping locally," says Noel Wiedman, manager of the Downtown Wheaton Association."

Along with creating and managing the program for the Downtown Wheaton, we helped the Downtown Wheaton Association develop some strategies to promote the club. The most visible and unique was the creation of the sidewalk decals (shown above). These proved just as effective in building awareness for the Shoppers' Club to merchants as it did for residents. Thanks goes to The Sign Authority for their help in finding a material that lasted well beyond the manufacturer's guarantee – making these a very cost-effective promotion.

The awards are chosen by the public, so I will post the link for voting as soon as it goes live. If you shop in Downtown Wheaton and you are not part of the Downtown Wheaton Shoppers' Club, sign up and you will be automatically entered to win a $100 gift certificate.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE : I am the third option under the "Nathan Lewis Best Marketing of the Year Award" You don't have to live in Wheaton to vote!

Posted in Results, News

Sweet results. Thanks for sharing, CSA.


I spoke to Cheryl, my contact at Community School of the Arts (CSA). She called with a question and casually shared with me some news. A whopping 40% of their new students came through the new website this fall. At their teachers' retreat the director shared that many community art schools are letting teachers go and cutting programming back. It is a different story at Wheaton's CSA; they are blessed to have a waiting list. Cheryl said, "We have gotten a tremendously positive response to the new site, and appreciate the marketing counsel you provided."

I am proud of the Spire2 team – thanks Andrea and Andriy.

And, Cheryl, call anytime. I am happy to answer any question – especially if you want to share things like: "your work is responsible for solving world hunger," or "I have five contacts who own companies that need your marketing expertise," or even, "I am buying you a large quantity of chocolate and it will be at your office this afternoon."

Posted in Results, News

CareNet's E-Mail Program Gets Results

Spire2 helped CareNet to create their email marketing program last year. We met to follow up just before the one year mark to make sure everything was still going well and to make little changes. One of the objectives was to increase internet donations. CareNet shared that they exceeded their goal, and their electronic donations were up by almost 50% with a month still left in the fiscal year.

Posted in Results, News

Spire2 helps organizations and businesses get their message out. Whether it is online, through email or with paper and ink, we make sure your message is being heard and that all these channels are working together to build your brand and get results. Learn more.

Receive our advice in your inbox.

Recent Posts