Direct Mail: How Much is Too Much?
Frequent mailings spark donor loyalty
The results of this year-long tracking study might surprise you. Test Panel One with 25 fundraising impacts produced the most gross revenue, the most net revenue, the highest gift frequency and, most important, the highest donor-loyalty rate.
Donor loyalty is the percent of current donors who continue to give in the next year. So, if you had 100 active donors last year and 45 of them gave this year, your donor-loyalty rate would be 45 percent. Typical loyalty rates for current donors average between 45 percent and as high as 65 percent.
The donor-loyalty rate is crucial to long-term fundraising effectiveness and revenue growth because it’s the strongest indicator of the long-term giving potential of your donor file. Low loyalty rates lead to lower and lower revenue. High loyalty rates spark significant revenue growth.
As shown on the Appeal Frequency Test Results chart, Panel Three with 19 fundraising impacts produced the least amount of revenue, the lowest gift frequency and the lowest donor-loyalty rate. Panel Four had the lowest net revenue because of the costs of the “no ask” affirmation mailing.
In this particular tracking study, the donor panel that received the highest frequency of appeals produced the best results for the nonprofit organization. Panel One produced 10 percent more revenue than the lowest panel. Its gift frequency was 7 percent higher than the lowest. And its donor-loyalty rate was 6 percent higher.
Here are some practical tips you can take from this study to improve your own fundraising efforts.
1. Mail your donors frequently to keep them informed about how you’re using their gifts and to alert them to your continuing needs. Remember, contrary to our own beliefs and perceptions, our donors don’t think of our organizations every day or even every week. Donors are just as busy as you are, and they experience just as many distractions. Being in front of your donors and grabbing their attention for a few moments is very important to sustaining a productive relationship. If you aren’t communicating with your donors, somebody else is, and they will gladly accept your donor’s gift.