December 8, 2017 Aubrey Hoeppner

If your online revenue has been growing, chances are your team has thought about cutting back on direct mail. Your board or CFO might see an opportunity to save money by shifting away from the hard costs of so much mail.

Do we really need to mail these donors? They’re already giving online—they’ll keep giving, and we’ll save the money! And isn’t direct mail dying anyway?

The problem is they might not keep giving, because online giving is influenced by other channels of communication.

Here’s how it plays out: a tech-savvy donor receives a four-page direct mail appeal. She’s gripped by the story and need, and she decides to give. But rather than write a check, she grabs her smartphone and goes to the organization’s website, where she clicks on a banner for the same need and gives.

Her online gift was really a response to an offline communication, even though it appears that she didn’t respond to the mail piece.

Short of spying on your donors, how do you know if this is happening and if it’s worth the cost to continue sending so much mail?

Make it a standard practice to compare the list of people giving online to the list of people receiving your direct mail. But remember that donors may have multiple accounts in your database, so you’ll need to follow a robust matching method to get the truest comparison. (It’s not always going to be clear that is the same Jane that gave your organization six direct mail gifts last year!)

How many of your online donors are also receiving printed reminders in their mailbox that your ministry needs money this month?

Every communication touch reinforces the relationship between your mission and the caring heart of your donors. So without that direct mail appeal, they’re much less likely to keep giving online. Consider the risk to revenue if you were to stop mailing them.

With this data in hand, you can save your revenue from a dangerous cut to communication.

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Comment (1)

  1. Rick Bradford

    Both my wife and I continue with direct mail, but also on line. We have many donors who still do not use on line donations of any kind as of concern of fraud and invasion. But much prefer the written letters. Our written letters are not as often and are more stragetic in timing. As person couple on the mission field our written letters are actually growing in number, as we send 600 three times a year. Being in a Africa there is still opportunity to do mailings and they do get through.
    Our online mailing is a more regular bi- monthly mailing, but also the electronic information I almost daily as per “Facebook” notes of what is happening on the field.
    The electronic mailings encourage the direct mail givings.


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