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Nonprofit Tactile Marketing Hand Fans
The Nonprofit Marketer’s Guide to Tactile Marketing
August 17, 2023
Marketing your nonprofit to potential donors and partners can be a challenge. It can be tricky to garner support while maintaining budget restrictions and encouraging a new donor base. Unlike marketing with for-profit organizations, your goals can be more complex than selling a service or product. Instead, you are selling an idea, experience, or vision to audiences that can vary widely in demographics like age range, income, and interest. While digital and traditional marketing certainly have their place, tactile marketing can expand your nonprofit’s brand reach and offer unique value.

What exactly is tactile marketing, and when does it make the most sense for a nonprofit?

Tactile marketing includes physical items alongside or as an integral part of a marketing plan to reach your audience in an impactful manner. For example, direct mail campaigns, promotional items, physical giveaways for auctions or volunteers, or leave-behind marketing assets all qualify as tactile marketing. As a nonprofit, you want to make sure that you are making an impact while appealing to your donor prospects in a personalized but mindful way.

But when should you use tactile marketing, and how do you know when it will make the most impact as a nonprofit?

Here are some tips for identifying when tactile marketing is a winning approach:

  • Fundraising events: Most nonprofits host fundraising events to raise money and fuel their cause. Events can be held in-person or virtually (or a combination of both) and often involve an entrance fee, auction, giveaway, or performance. You can add an extra bit of flash to your nonprofit event with tactile marketing pieces. For example, you could offer a pair of sunglasses or a paper fan branded with your nonprofit’s logo for guests at an outdoor event.
  • Thank you for donating: Donors are often asked to contribute to causes on more than one occasion. It’s nice to show them some appreciation, especially if they donate a certain amount or on a recurring basis. A nice tactile marketing piece thanking a patron for their support can go a long way toward garnering a loyal donor. Consider a unique, VIP level gift set for recurring donors to really say thanks.
  • Appreciation for volunteers: Volunteers donate their time to your mission without expecting compensation, but they are clearly invested in your cause. Offering branded items in appreciation serves a double purpose: your nonprofit gets additional brand exposure while your volunteers feel valued.
  • Raise awareness for specific campaigns: Capital campaigns are a great example of large-scale fundraising efforts that call for a high level of funds. These types of campaigns can also rely on outside funding sources that require your nonprofit to reach beyond their typical donor base, often to corporations. Tactile marketing can generate interest beyond your standard marketing measures and drum up enthusiasm with high-profile, high-dollar donors.
  • To announce something new: New nonprofit campaigns can benefit from a little bit of something extra. Use tactile marketing to boost interest in any new endeavors.
JLL Holiday 3DDMl Campaign

Planning a nonprofit tactile marketing campaign

Before you launch a tactile marketing campaign for your nonprofit, make sure you cross your t’s and dot those i’s by preparing your plan. Try these steps:


  1. Pinpoint your goals:
    What do you want to accomplish with your tactile marketing campaign? Whether it’s gaining the interest of a new donor base or showing appreciation for volunteers, know what you hope to achieve from the start and tailor your efforts to meet those marketing goals.
  2. Identify and analyze your audience:
    Who are you trying to reach? Are you hoping to appeal to alumni donors, or do you want to get younger generations involved with your next volunteer opportunity? Either way, you must take a close look at your intended audience and understand what drives and interests them to develop a successful tactile marketing campaign.
  3. Determine your budget and calculate your tactile marketing campaign options:
    Budget is always a constraint in the nonprofit world. This is especially true when a significant portion of it is dependent on your donor base. Evaluate where you can spend money and be thoughtful about what kind of tactile marketing pieces you select.
  4. Collaborate to develop deliverables:
    The best campaigns come from a collective mind. Grab your key players and put yourselves in a room to kick around ideas. Get input from all nonprofit stakeholders and take the time to plan each aspect of your tactile marketing campaign thoroughly.
  5. Identify the must-haves and the areas of flexibility:
    Which items will ensure your campaign is a success, and where can you compromise? Identify which elements are essential to communicate your message and reach your audience. Adjust as necessary.
  6. Find the right print and promotional product partner:
    To execute a truly incredible tactile marketing piece, you need the right support. Find a partner that supports your ideas, goals, and principles and can help you bring your tactile marketing campaign to life! (Not sure where to start on this one? We can help!)

Nonprofit tactile marketing options

Ready to launch and crush your tactile marketing campaign? Marketing a nonprofit is different from more traditional marketing. A for-profit seeks to create a product or service that solves a customer’s need. Nonprofits, on the other hand, must prove that their mission is worthy of investment. It’s crucial that your tactile marketing efforts reflect your donors’ experience, clearly communicate your purpose, and remain sustainable.


Three-dimensional direct mail creates a highly personalized experience for your donor base. Choose products that will resonate with your constituents, add a friendly personalized letter, and send it straight to their home or office. 3DDM provides a unique opportunity for engaging donors or promoting a fundraising event.

Case studies

Donors love to see how their money is making a difference in the community. Consider putting together a personal story about the population you serve, whether it involves a community spotlight or individual narrative. This is a great way to show donors the impact you’re making on a community.

Promotional products for volunteers or donors:

A little ‘thank you’ swag never hurts. Volunteers or donors will appreciate the love. Swag also helps to keep your nonprofit top of mind with a bit of mobile branding.

Tips for a winning nonprofit tactile marketing campaign

Tactile marketing isn’t the right approach for every situation. You will need to carefully consider where it will make an impact and gain support for your cause. When you decide to dive all in, here are a few tips for helping your tactile marketing campaign shine.

Be thoughtful. Donors and volunteers are donating their time or funds to your cause. They want to know that their investment will benefit the intended recipients. If you choose a product that seems overly pricey or flashy, your constituents may question how donated resources are being used.

Be imaginative. An excellent tactile marketing piece takes some thought. You shouldn’t just slap your logo on a shirt and hand it out without considering how your tactile marketing piece will be received. Take the extra time to think everything through from concept to execution.

Be sustainable. Most donors and volunteers are motivated by the good of their hearts, and they enjoy seeing a positive impact from those efforts. Be mindful of sustainability and environmental impact when piecing together your tactile marketing campaign.

Want to find out how we can help launch an extraordinary nonprofit tactile marketing campaign? Check out our work + reach out to our team to get your marketing campaign going!