Person with binocularsTo progress through this course, use the navigation bar on the left side of the page. You can also click on the section titles, which are found at the bottom of each page.

Before getting started, download these printable tip sheets to help you craft your own direct mail campaign:



Welcome AmeriCorps VISTA Community Members!

We hope that this online course will help guide your approach towards reaching potential supporters, donors, and volunteers. This course works to expand your knowledge and comfort level with a variety of physical and digital direct mail outlets.  You will gain insights on how and why individuals respond to requests for support, and learn to leverage these insights to attract more support for your organization.


Learning Objectives

To keep your program running year after year, you need individuals whose support you can consistently secure. This course provides tools and ideas for outlining an annual giving appeal for either physical or virtual delivery direct to individuals. In addition, it introduces cost-effective techniques to keep donors engaged through memos, newsletters, annual reports, and e-newsletters, as well as how to utilize social media as an effective communication vehicle.

As a result of this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe how the look and feel of direct mail materials should impact recipients

  • Craft a written appeal that captures reader attention

  • Identify effective communication methods for successful fundraising appeals

  • Describe an effective reply device to secure gifts

You will also have:

  • Created a preliminary communication schedule for your organization

  • Identified specific words, phrases, and tools to craft your appeal letters


Before beginning this 30-minute course, we ask that you to take the quick pre-assessment quiz to identify what topics you already know, and those where you will be able to build new knowledge. 

What is Direct Mail?

EnvelopeDirect mail is a fundraising technique that can bring your program closer to your donor’s home or office. But, in order to receive a return gift, your letter has to be opened and read.

Think about the last time you received a direct mail appeal letter - or a request for support - either physically or electronically.

  • What did the package looked like?

  • Can you recall how the letter was addressed to you?

  • What was the type of postage used?

  • If it was in an email, what was the subject line?

Did you open it? If so, why? If not, why not?

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