Direct mail

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Direct mail is any print-based fundraising material delivered to people, including addressed mail, unaddressed (door-drops) and inserts.

Top tips for direct mail



Key principles

The CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) Code, regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority, states that marketing must always be legal, decent, honest and truthful. These principles are echoed in the Code of Fundraising Practice.


How you communicate your charity's need for funds will vary from organisation to organisation, but there are some basic requirements that should be included on every charity mailing. This includes the:

Typically, charities include website and email addresses on mail literature, as well as relevant contact numbers, making it as easy as possible for supporters or beneficiaries to reach them. 

Always remember that fundraising materials should be inclusive and accessible. Consider the needs of your recipients and do what you can to ensure that you provide the information in a variety of formats (see our Treating Donors Fairly guidance).

Direct mail and data protection

If you are using any personal data (for example an individual’s name and address) you need to do so in line with data protection legislation. Charities using direct mail for fundraising will usually need to be registered with Information Commissioner’s Office.

Who can we mail and how can we ensure we're handling data appropriately?

The key thing to remember is that supporters should be able to choose how they receive information from your charity. In practice, this means:


Fundraising mail can either be addressed to specific individuals or delivered as unaddressed door drops. Different techniques will be used for different campaigns. Typically, addressed mail requires good data management and may come at a greater cost (including staff time and data management), but achieves higher response rates than unaddressed mail. The latter can be relatively quick to distribute, but is often identified as 'junk mail' and can contribute to concerns about environmental waste.

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