Give Alumni What They Want| Direct Mail Campaigns

Meet the writer: Karen Pieper

Hi, I'm Karen! I've been in the industry for 21 years and can't wait to share my perspective on all things direct mail. I'm currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Letter Jacket Envelopes and deal with tasks from managing the website, facilitating conversations with customers, and much more!

When constructing a direct mail campaign as a college or university alumni association, it is important to be certain you are delivering what your alumni want and need, to ensure that your mailing doesn’t wind up in the trash.

Direct mail marketing for your association should be carefully constructed and considered. Make sure you are using a preferred method of delivering not only what your alumni want to receive, but the means by which they prefer contact. This is especially important regarding donations and gifts.


Alumni want access to a wide range of topics and information about the institution, but it’s important to avoid information overload. Stick to information directly involving alumni affairs, news and events as opposed to current campus news. While alumni at their best should and do care about the institution, information that is related to current students is not always of interest to alumni.

Direct Mail is King

Some alumni associations are moving to email, internet-based newsletters and social media like Facebook and Twitter for communication. This can be a mistake; currently, nearly 60% of all alumni prefer direct mail of the traditional variety to electronic forms of communication.

This also means you need to be sure your direct mail stands out from the other fliers and circulars that people receive in the mail. A custom-printed envelope, for example, that leverages special color schemes which evoke your institution would be a great marketing choice. It is a good way to catch the eye of your alumni so that they know they’re getting something from your college or university.

Mail over Telephone

Many alumni associations are still relying on telephone communications for fundraising and updates. This can also be a mistake. Direct mail carries with it several advantages, particularly over telephone calls. Among these are:

Mail is not as intrusive as phone calls.

Mail allows alumni to respond when it is convenient.

Costs less than telephone communications.

Physical nature of mail gets more notice than phone or e-communications.

Alumni tend to read mail, while ignoring phone calls.

Physical Newsletters and Magazines

Alumni still enjoy old-school means of communication and reading. Newsletters and magazines sent through the mail are excellent means of keeping your alumni engaged about goings-on at your institution.

While it is possible to mail newsletters without special packaging, it can be helpful to send such communications in specialized and attractive custom envelopes. The mailing is more likely to catch the eye of the alumni if the envelopes display the logo and colors of your university.

Best Practices

Make sure that you employ best practices in communications. Keep an accurate and up-to-date database of alumni addresses. The USPS keeps a physical address database which can be used for this purpose.

When sending direct mails – especially for fundraising – transparency is a good idea. This means that if you’re asking for money, be sure to let alumni know how their gifts and donations are being spent. This information will increase the willingness to donate.

Personalize information as much as possible. Alumni will better respond to mail that is personalized to their interests, tastes and needs.

If you need advice on the best way to create eye-catching designs for your direct mail campaigns, our custom envelopes can be a great first step. Give us a call with any questions or advice you may have. We are here to help!


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