Five Maples’ Fundraising Blog

Update: 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 and we feel inclined to utilize the digital market.  The truth is, digital raises less than a tenth of the money that direct mail raises.  

According to the M+R/NTEN 2017 Benchmarks Study, email lists and the quantities of emails sent have both grown by 10% in 2016.  Total online revenue is up by 14%.

The same study then confirms response rates to email solicitations of 0.05%. That’s not 5%.  It’s 0.05%

Response rates to email solicitations are 0.05%, according to M+R/NTEN 2017 Benchmarks Study. That means for every 2000 emails, you can expect 1 response.

You’re probably asking “with online revenue up by so much, how can this be?” Simple.

If you’re reaching a larger audience, you’re bound to see an increase in revenue.  However, with a response rate so low, for every 2000 fundraising emails you send, you can expect only 1 lonely response.

The DMA 2016 Response Rate Report also indicates that even with this low response rate, 19% plan to decrease their use of direct mail to focus on other media.

Why is this strategy risky?

  • One reason is noise level.  Your mailbox is far less crowded than your inbox.  The DMA’s 2016 report tells us that mail has an 80+% open rate, while email inboxes suffer from a 16-21% open rate.  Swipe left and delete! 
  • 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 reason 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.

Here’s the scoop:

Direct mail has the ability to offer more personalized and relevant marketing to a targeted audience.  It has proven far more effective in donor acquisition and reconnecting past supporters to the cause.

And a bonus for the digitally inclined—direct mail even helps engage people in the web.  Yup, you read that correctly.  Target Analytics estimated that 1/3 of online contributions are made in response to a direct mail appeal.

So there IS a place for email and alternate marketing in your strategy.  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!

We've got your back! 

Five Maples helps fundraisers save time, raise more money, and enjoy doing it! Give us a call today for a free consultation. Call Brett, our Director of Nonprofit Practice, at 800-437-7780 ext 102, or Email Us Today!

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