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Six tips to prepare a successful mailing

Posted September 24, 2020 by Virginia Davidson

tips for a successful nonprofit mailing

Whether you’re sending out a solicitation letter for your annual appeal, an event invitation, or a newsletter, a successful postal mailing requires careful planning and careful review. Here’s a simple checklist of six tips to help you prepare a successful mailing.

6 tips for a successful mailing

Tip #1: Plan your mailing list

Think carefully about who should receive your mailing (current and lapsed donors, for example). Just as importantly, decide who shouldn’t receive it (for example, anyone who has made a gift in the last three months).

 Tip #2: Send to constituents with physical mailing addresses

Your mailing recipients should only include constituents who have valid physical mailing addresses. If you’re using a donor management system like Little Green Light, you can use the “Can send mail?” criteria in your search. That will exclude any constituents without a valid mailing address or whose record is marked as “deceased” or “do not mail”.

Tip #3: Review your search results

You know your data best. As you create your mailing list, pick a constituent you know shouldn’t be on the list, and one you know should be. As you review the names on your mailing list, watch for those names as indicators that you should review your search criteria and modify it. Plan to review your mailing list well in advance of your targeted mailing date so that you have time to make corrections. Then, check your list again!

Tip #4: Double-check the names

As you review the recipients on your mailing list, check to make sure the names, including addressee and salutation, are correct. If you find errors, correct them in your database.

Tip #5: Keep addresses up to date

Running your data through the National Change of Address Registry (NCOA) helps you maintain up-to-date addresses for your contacts. It also saves you from having to manually update addresses in your database. Many printers offer this service for nonprofits. Otherwise, update address records manually and in a timely manner when you receive returned mail.

Tip #6: Review the pieces of your mailings

Merge and review your letters, labels, envelopes, etc. before printing the whole batch to make sure merge fields are working as you intend. Also confirm that the formatting of your letter is what you expect. Remember that merge fields (such as a three-line address) take up more space once the letters are merged, so you must format your letter template to accommodate the merged fields.


As you plan your mailing, leave ample time to complete these six steps. The time you invest into careful planning and review of your mailing will be well worth it!

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