Nonprofits, Charities Face Challenges of New Tax Law – Will Direct Mail Come to the Rescue?

Volunteer with donation jar

The new tax law passed by Congress in December 2017 has charitable fundraisers and nonprofits from the local level to the international level concerned. According to some estimates, the changes will potentially drain from $16 billion to $24 billion from the nonprofit sector each year. The reasons are clear: the law doubles the standard deduction for individuals and couples, making it unreasonable for millions to itemize their deductions and therefore eliminating an incentive to make or increase charitable contributions. Also, by raising the estate tax, the law erodes incentive to receive tax benefits by leaving bequests to charitable foundations. Many feel that smaller, locally based charities will be hit the hardest.

Of course, the generosity of Americans will not be diminished by changes in tax law (and not all of the changes are necessarily bad news for nonprofits). But the concerns overall are very real, and highlight the importance of giving now more than ever. Brian Gallagher, president of United Way International, feels that while people will still give they will not give as much. Why? Charitable contributions for the majority of people will be taxed.

These developments mean nonprofits will be more eager than ever to take advantage of smart, proven marketing/fundraising strategies. The strategic use of quality direct mail for charities and nonprofits is a proven winner, and should not be overlooked in marketing strategy plans for the years ahead.

Over at, you will find some eye-opening statistics about the print industry, and specifically about the power of direct mail – yes, good old-fashined direct mail, even in a digital age. While I would attribute part of the continued effectiveness of direct mail campaigns for marketing to their integration with other online and offline marketing methods, it looks like the preference of consumers for the physical nature of printed matter still pays off in increased conversion rates and marketing ROI. Also, small companies and non-profits are reaping the benefits of VDP personalization in increasingly targeted campaigns that drive up response rates as their database management matures. A couple of the stats from PrintisBig:

  • Direct mail increases online donations by 40%.

  • In 2012, US companies generated incremental sales through direct marketing to the tune of $2.2 trillion.

  • Advertisers in the US spend $167 per person on direct mail, earning $2,095 worth of goods sold. That’s a 1,255% return on investment.

  • Non-profits gain 78% of their donations from direct mail.


Rather than seeing an EITHER/OR situation between direct mail and new digital alternatives, embrace the opportunities of mobile marketing, qr codes, email, social media and website e-commerce as a whole new box of tools to get our your message and/or drive sales. To abandon print and it’s proven effectiveness in that transition will prove costly!

Current wisdom seems to say that millennials are less influenced by traditional print marketing in favor of online, digital ads. But the facts dispute this. Direct mail for millennials is still a trusted, welcome source of information and studies are showing that the most effective strategies always involve a mix of print and digital. Many who eventually donate online will have found you because they were first interested in a direct mail piece which directed them to the convenience of online giving.

As a nonprofit or charity fundraiser, rely on your printer for advice and direction with integrated marketing. They should be able to provide you with everything from encouragement along the way to complete design, layout, copywriting, production, multi-purposing, online implmentation and distribution of your marketing outreach. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.