Five Maples’ Fundraising Blog

New study: Donors prefer email, but more respond to letters.

Thanks to Jessica Kansas, Director of Annual Giving at the Williston Northampton School, for alerting me to the just-released results of a study by Campbell Rinker.

Their DonorPulse™ International study, conducted in October and November 2011, collected the opinions, perceptions, and preferences of over 2,600 donors to organizations that provide international relief, development, and child sponsorship.

Donors to international groups told the survey they prefer charities to contact them by e-mail (61 percent) over mailed letters (54 percent). Telephone, text message, and in-person solicitation preferences were under four percent.

But as the study shows, donors’ behavior is different than their preferences: 43 percent of these donors say they have given in the past 12 months because of a letter they received. Email comes in second at 28 percent.

Other studies have shown that response is highest when both direct mail and email are used. That increases further when a phone-a-thon is added to the mix.

Last month I participated in the local YMCA’s phone-a-thon. The phone-a-thon had been preceded by a personalized solicitation letter and two email follow ups. Several people I spoke with said, “I was planning on sending in a donation.” And after the phone call they finally did, including a $1,000 first-time donation. That shows how asking multiple times in multiple ways can produce the highest fundraising result. To what would you attribute that $1,000 gift: direct mail, email, or the phone call? I attribute it to a smart development director (Liz Coppola) using all three channels effectively.

The fancy word is “multi-channel marketing”. It works because in a world of marketing saturation and overly busy lives, you may have to help out your donor by drawing attention to your request several times. In their heart they want to give―they just didn’t get to it yet. So give them another chance to do so!

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