Five Maples’ Direct Mail Fundraising Blog

In fundraising, direct mail still outperforms email. Here’s why.

Crickets—the sound you hear when you ask your team about returns on your email fundraising efforts.

You’re not alone. We live in a digital age, but digital raises less than a tenth of the money that direct mail raises.

Study Email Response Rate
M+R/NTEN 2016 Benchmarks Study (fundraising) 0.08%
DMA 2015 Response Rate Report (advertising) 0.1%

A new study confirms response rates to email solicitations of 0.08%. That’s not 8%. It’s 0.08%. In other words, for every 10,000 fundraising emails you send, you can expect only 8 responses! See for yourself, the results for fundraising emails as reported in the 2016 M+R/NTEN Benchmarks Study.

Blackbaud’s Q5 2015 donorCentrics Index of Direct Marketing Fundraising shows that online gifts still only account for 5.5% of total dollars raised.

It’s not just in the nonprofit world. The Direct Marketing Association’s 2015 Response Rate Report shows that direct mail response rates are 30 times higher than email response rates.

Most of our clients have voiced concerns about low response rates to their email solicitations. These studies demonstrate that even some of the largest and most sophisticated shops struggle with very low response rates.

Fact is: Email works great for a lot of things, but struggles as a stand-alone fundraising channel.

Email, when used in chorus with peer-to-peer fundraising, online auctions, crisis response, or political campaigns, can yield far better than 0.08% returns.

For annual fund giving, direct mail improves email fundraising. And vice versa.

Target Analytics estimated that 1/3 of online contributions are made in response to a direct mail appeal. You read that correctly—so-called snail mail, a driving force.

Why is that so? I’d offer a few suggestions right off the bat—and you’ll probably relate.

  • One is noise level. Your mailbox is far less crowded than your inbox.
  • Another is trustworthiness. A 2013 DMA study discovered that 56% of consumers think printed material is the most trustworthy of all communication channels. You know what they say: Get it in writing!
  • And a third is tactility. Things you are able to touch have a higher impact than things you can only see.

Recent studies in the field of decision neuroscience give us reasons for all this as I report in another blog post.

The take-home lesson: use direct mail, email, and the telephone together for the best results for your annual fund. We recommend releasing an email reminder 1-2 weeks after the in-home date of your direct mail solicitation. That reply card is probably still sitting on their kitchen counter—use email to remind your donors to return it!

Let Five Maples help you with your fundraising efforts. You’ll get experienced advice and attention to detail to improve your results. Call me at 800 437-7780 Ext 104 or Email Me Today!

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