The digital world is becoming an ever greater presence in our lives, but recent research shows direct mail continues to outperform many electronic marketing channels. One such example is the use of direct mail by charities to encourage donations. This post discloses current findings of physical mail beating out digital mediums for charities bringing in donors.
A study carried out by research company Campbell Rinker on behalf of the non-profit advisory body Dunham+Company found that people were more than three times as likely to donate after being contacted by direct mail than by email. The researchers asked people making a donation what had prompted them to make their contribution to the charity. The portion of people who were donating after receiving a direct mail appeal was 17%, more than three times higher than the 5% who had been prompted to donate by an email.
Rick Dunham, CEO of Dunham+Company, described the results of the study as “a bit of a shock.” But perhaps there is a simple explanation: we pay more attention to a physical object that comes into our mailbox than an electronic email, which is easily deleted with the click of a mouse.
Upon analysis of the results of the study, it was found that donors in the 40-59 categories are the most responsive to direct mail: 47% of them responded to receiving a letter by making a donation in 2012, which is a dramatic increase from 34% in 2010. Donors over 60 also respond well to direct mail: 24% of them donated in 2012 after receiving a letter, an increase of 6% since 2010.
Direct mail is particularly effective at getting people to make their first donation to a charity. According to the Blackbaud 2011 donorCentrics Internet and Multi-Channel Giving Benchmarking Report, three quarters of new donors were prompted to donate by direct mail, compared to just 17% by email.
Direct mail is more expensive as a campaigning tool than electronic methods such as email and social media, but it also brings in a lot more revenue. The 2011 Blackbaud report revealed that the typical charity in the United States receives 75% of its funding through the mail. In comparison, online giving accounts for a paltry 10% of the total revenue. Moreover, it was revealed that the majority of donors make donations purely through direct mail.
Although electronic campaigns are a good way to raise awareness and increase a charity’s visibility, non-profit organizations looking to raise funds should be wary of relying too heavily on online campaigning. Many of the boomer generation who are most likely to donate still are not internet savvy and can appreciate the thought time that goes into direct mail ads. Not engaging in physical mail when searching for donations is simply neglecting some rather large segments and as the research shows, some responsive segments at that.