Five Maples’ Direct Mail Fundraising Blog

Studies Still Show: Direct Mail Donors Have Higher Lifetime Value

Here’s a question I’m asked from time to time: Should we encourage our donors to switch to online giving? Won’t that save us money?

Studies show that the answer is a resounding NO. It actually costs you money.

The 2011 donorCentrics™ Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report, published online by Target Analytics, reports that:

  • While donors acquired online have a higher first gift value, online donors that subsequently switch to direct mail giving have higher retention rates and higher long-term value.
  • Only a tiny percentage of mail-acquired donors give online in later years.

The DMA 2016 Response Rate Report indicates that email is not an effective channel for acquisition or retention.

Response to email solicitations is shockingly low.

The 2017 M+R/NTEN Benchmarks Study reported a .05 percent donation response to emails (for national nonprofits, not including education or healthcare) compared to an advocacy response rate of 1.6 percent.

CONVIO reported email donation response rates between 0.44 percent (three-part end-of-year campaigns) and 0.18 percent (rest of year) in their Fundraising Success Guide for Small and Growing Non-Profits.

Lessons

  1. Integrate email, social media, and your website into your donor communications and relationships. Make online donations easy.
  2. Ensure that your online donation process collects the donor’s physical mailing address for your donor database!
  3. Add those online donors to your direct mail solicitations.
  4. Mention your online donation page on your direct mail response form, but responding via mail with check or credit card should have prominence.
  5. Use emails to follow up direct mail with a reminder to respond. This helps gets those response forms back that have been put aside “temporarily” for later action.

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