There’s a great deal of information in this easy-to-read report. I recommend you download it.
The report focuses much attention on online giving. And that channel is growing.
But one sentence, in particular, stuck out to me, and I want to highlight it:
Online giving remains less than 10% of total fundraising as we approach 20 years since the first online donation.
For 20 years, we’ve been told about the brave new world of online giving. We’ve even been urged to drop direct mail as old-fashioned.
Yet, donors aren’t ready to go there, so neither am I.
This isn’t an either/or situation, of course. You need to understand both channels. And offering donors more options is good.
But don’t give up on direct mail yet.
Thanks to Target Analytics’ input, Blackbaud is also able to report on giving by age group.
Seventy-nine percent of all donors are Boomers or older. (Still so obsessed about how to attract young donors?)
My first assumption was this explained mail’s popularity.
But maybe not. Compu-Mail reports that “36% of people under 30 look forward to checking the mail each day.”
An article in Chron cites an Epsilon study that young professionals 18-34 had the best response rates to direct mail. (We’re not talking specifically nonprofits here, though – this is broader advertising information.) But the same article highlights the staying power of direct mail with people 65 and up.
Online has its benefits
For many organizations, online is the first choice.
It’s inexpensive (or seen that way)
You don’t need stamps, and free or inexpensive email options abound. (Nothing in fundraising is free, though. Email takes skill and time to do right.)
You can add video and tell your story directly.
Donors can make a gift with a few clicks, no checkbook or envelope required.
It offers more opportunities to track interaction
You can see how many people opened your mail or clicked on links.
It’s also mobile
You can reach donors where they are. And more of us are carrying our phones everywhere. (The Blackbaud report found approximately 17% of online transactions were made using a mobile device.)
But don’t depend only on electronic communications.
Paper stimulates your reader’s sense of touch
A good direct mail package takes this into consideration. Our sense of touch is powerful. Look at the piece from Nothing But Nets I highlighted. That piece of netting attached to the letter wasn’t just decorative.
Touching paper affects our brains differently than digital does. And remember this article on the connection between touch and emotion? The tactile response to sandpaper made people feel more charitable.
Mail can stand out
Yes, we are surrounded by devices. But the sheer amount of electronic communication we all wade through each day overwhelms us. We also get lots of “junk” mail. But that’s your job – make sure your piece isn’t junk!
Mail can stick around
We are trying to absorb digital communication at dizzying speeds now. We now have shorter attention spans than goldfish.
Chances are your email got swiped after your prospect gave it two seconds of thought.
Because of the volume of email we handle daily, you may never have a chance to make your pitch.
And as you’ve probably found, if you don’t make a decision quickly with an email, it still doesn’t get read. It just clogs up your inbox and gets deleted later. (I know. I do it, too.)
Mail gets attention email doesn’t
We tend to deal with mail immediately. An article in The Drum shares this from the Direct Mail Association:
Four-fifths (79 per cent) of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45 per cent who say they deal with email straightaway, research from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has found.
So what should you do?
Don’t give up on your mail. If you want to attract donors, it will still be the workhorse of your program.
Pay attention to your donors’ behavior. Blackbaud’s information is good to have, but the bottom line is how your donors react.
Give donors a choice about communications. To do that, you need to solicit answers. That means you need to talk to donors. And have systems in place to get feedback. Then you have to respond to that feedback!
Budget for mail, because it will pay off if done well. Yes, you can send a zillion emails cheaply. But what’s the result? Pay attention to your lists, and pay attention to the quality of what you send. (A badly done mailing isn’t going to wow anyone.) Outsource if needed – a good copywriter can help you get better results.
In short, you should probably keep mail at the center of your donor communications program. Because that’s where your donors are.
And that’s really what matters, isn’t it?