In addition to Individual Projects, you will be working in groups to develop skills used by organizations to support their activities. To learn about organizing and implementing a development campaign, your assignment is to develop and implement a Direct Mail Solicitation Plan for the TCD Program.


This assignment is designed to help you:

  • Practice skills used in direct marketing to donors, including donor segmentation, prospect identification and data collection, planning a campaign, designing campaign materials, executing a campaign, and tracking campaign performance.
  • Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of direct marketing relative to other forms of fundraising
  • Learn to work collaboratively on program development and presentation


Assignment & Grading: Your assignment is to develop and implement a plan to raise funds for the UF Tropical Conservation and Development Program via direct mail. Your final plan will include (1) a written campaign plan and the components described below and (2) an in-class presentation of the proposal and materials. The assignment is worth 2000 points and is made up of the following components:


1) A written plan for the campaign that includes

  1. A situation analysis of TCD
  2. Segmented profiles of TCD’s prospective donors (at least 4 segments). If available, include data on the number of actual donors to date in different segments and prior donation history to TCD.
  3. The Campaign’s SMART objectives: the goal amount to be raised and for what use and based on the information from Item b.
  4. The strategies and tactics to achieve these objectives, including the type of appeals for each donor category, a calendar of when appeals should be mailed to each segment, mechanisms for thanking donors, etc.
  5. The campaign budget
  6. The metrics for evaluating campaign success

2) A donor database that can be used to generate mail/email lists

  1. The database must be uploadable to Constant Contact
  2. You must identify at least 4 potential donor segments
  3. Be sure to include segment data in the records

3) Campaign Materials

  1. A print (mail) solicitation targeted at each market segment
  2. An email solicitation targeted at at each market segment (if appropriate)
  3. A mechanism for thanking donors from each segment



 DUE March 20th

  • Draft of Items a-c of the Campaign Plan (150 points).

DUE March 27th

  • Draft of Items d-f of the Campaign Plan (150 points).

DUE April 10th

  • Draft Direct Mail Products (500 points).


  • Donor Database (200 points).


  • Final Campaign Plan (400 Points)
  • Revised versions of items 2-4 (300 points).
  • Presentation of your fundraising campaign plan (200 points).

 DUE May 2nd

  • A brief essay reflecting (~500-700 words) on what was beneficial as well as challenging about completing this project, including the dynamics of working as a team. Please include in this summary submit a brief evaluation of every team member’s contribution to the project (including your own). This evaluation will not be shared ith team members (100 points).

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Remember that there are several key components to an effective direct mail letter: a strong opening that will immediately interest the reader, a specific request (solicitation) for a gift, and a postscript (P.S.) that is a call to action, not just an afterthought
  • Remember also that effective fundraising letters tell stories. Readers respond to the good that your nonprofit accomplishes. Tell the story.  Engage the reader. If it is not clear in the text of the letter, add an explanation of what type of letter it is (acquisition, renewal, or upgrade)
  • Be creative! Think beyond envelope/letter, or use this tool in a different way.
  • Think about what segments should get different types of direct mail solicitation (personalized letter, generic letter, gift, email)
  • Remember to consider follow-up and thank you correspondence.
  • Keep in mind that the UF Foundation has three funds for the TCD program, and different donor segements may want to give to different funds.
  • The TCD Program uses Constant Contact for emailing newsletters. You may wish to consider tools such as A/B testing in your email campaigns.



Some readings (including a few good posts by companies that do marketing and want your business; denoted with a *)

Proven Methods to Improve Fundraising by Direct Mail

Blackbaud: How To Launch a Direct Mail Program

Non-profit pro: 20 Direct-Marketing Ideas for Small Nonprofits, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, & Part 4

Small Business Chronicle: Direct Mail Campaign Fundraising

Dummies: How to Raise Funds for Your Nonprofit through Direct Mail

Nonprofit Expert: How Nonprofits Can Improve Their Email Deliverability

Pinterest Boards of Fundraising Direct Mail idea: Board #1 & Board #2

Boingnet: Higher Education Marketing – Top 6 Direct Mail Tech Tips [some really interesting stuff here]

*Digital Dog Direct: A Crash Course in Higher Education Direct Mail Formats [specific to higher education]

*Ballantine: 6 Tips to Make Your Next Non-Profit Direct Mail Campaign a Success

*neon: Direct mail vs email for non-profits

*Badger Group: How to Use Design Trends With Nonprofit Communication Best Practices

*Pitney Bowes: Nonprofit Direct Mail Guide: How to send and save like a pro

*Preferred Direct: Why Nonprofits Should Use Direct Mail Marketing for Fundraising



A list of 10 Inexpensive (or Free) Nonprofit Marketing Tools That Create Stunning Visuals (includes Canva for nonprofits, instagram tools, animation tools, etc.)

Canva: templates for direct mail postcards

Wikihow: Create a marketing plan (Wikihow? yes, really – it’s quite thorough

Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) Marketing Plan Template

Samples and Templates for Nonprofits (includes direct mail letters and thank you letters for donors)

How to go from mailing lists to mailing labels with Avery