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Beginner’s Guide to Finding Prospective Donors

Written by Michelle Toivonen Director of Strategic Marketing

Create a Prospective Donor Campaign Integrating Mail with Digital Channels and Get Results

We’ve come full circle. For decades, the best channel to recruit prospective donors was through the mail. Then the digital revolution brought on websites, digital ads, retargeting ads, and social media. Many nonprofits allocated budget for online advertising and reduced, or eliminated mail. Now, the winds of change have shifted again and Development Officers find they need to add mail back into their channel mix. But, given the expense and time required to create a high-quality mailing, nonprofit mailers need to create highly targeted and segmented campaigns that include the right ask for the right audience.

Using the information here, your team can do this internally, rather than paying the high prices of agencies. All the data and results are in one dashboard with full access.

The New Realities of Finding Prospective Donors

If you’re mailing to a home address, you can (and should) be targeting those households DIRECTLY with online ads and integrated email specifically promoting the arrival of your mail. This is EASY to do now through one dashboard and requires very little extra work.

Savvy development officers use their mailing to generate site traffic. They get full value from the mailing as they have all the martech in place to support nurturing inbound leads; including landing pages, retargeting pixels. Now small to midsize nonprofits can afford the same tactics. However, if you’re new to the digital side OR you’re unaware of how to place ads directly on devices in the homes of your recipients, we can help you understand and execute this highly effective tactic. You will boost results by directly integrating your message across multiple channels.

It Begins and Ends with Your Data

There’s a lot more to this than just pulling and preparing your mailing list. And when the donation drive is over, you need much deeper analysis than just checking for the last source of attribution to see “what worked.” Real donors do interesting things on their journey from the discovery phase to donation. They float between channels. And, without the right tracking in place, you’ll never know who responded, where they responded and which channels performed best.

So, what is a small to mid-sized nonprofit to do? How can you possibly track and analyze all that data? The answer is simple, but the execution is complex. You set up your campaign to effectively track your donor’s behavior across multiple channels and you collect, distill, and analyze all the response data for real business intelligence and actionable insights for your next campaign. Got all that?

If that sounds a little overwhelming for your team to plan and execute, we can help. Our team of strategists regularly helps development officers plan, execute and analyze campaigns using channels such as direct mail, email, online advertising, and social media marketing to better understand what channels are performing best and with which consumers.

Here’s how we do that:

  • Manage data for successful campaigns, including hygiene, appends and list purchases when necessary
  • Analyze historical data for trends and insights you couldn’t reach on your own
  • Append new data where needed
  • Create donor profiles and look-alike prospects
  • Meet with you to advise you on campaign strategy and planning based on our insights
  • Segment your data for best ROI/ROAS
  • Prepare and upload data into your custom dashboard to track all channels in your campaign
  • Produce and release your creative assets; such as the mailing, email, online ads, social media ad
  • You watch your campaign dashboard with live results throughout
  • You can export your data anytime you want
  • We export your data across all channels at the end and help you understand
    • Who responded
    • Where they responded
    • When and how often the responded
    • What your data means
    • What our recommendations are for future campaigns

The best part is you can add most of the items above to your next campaign for pennies more per piece. This adds a lot of bang for the buck while helping you to improve sales and gain real results.

Hear how to find new donors using the profiles of current donors and why finding the right donors is so important. Gary does a deep dive on the knowledge and data behind creating or finding a customer profile, and what to do once you find those donors. Listen to this episode of The Plus Podcast at



For Experienced Development Officers

If you’ve been there and done that before, we have more advanced tactics to share. The focus of our Advanced Tactics for Nonprofit Development departments include:

  • Advanced segmentation and donor analysis
  • Creating personas based on geographic or firmographic information
  • Retention campaigns
  • Scaling for Increased Market Share


Case Studies

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USPS Statistics: In the 2017 Household Diary Study, the USPS claims “In 2017, 53 percent of households read their advertising mail, while an additional 21 percent scanned their mail.” They further explain that when it comes to catalog mailings, “46 percent of households read catalogs and only 21 percent discard them without reading them.” The bottom line is: the majority of people do pay attention to their advertising mail, making direct mail an obvious choice for companies who want to boost their marketing campaigns, especially when it comes to catalog mailings.

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