Focus On: International Fundraising: DM Fundraising Across the Pond
JH: The majority of donors recruited through direct marketing in the U.K. are committed donors … those who pledge to give on a monthly basis … correct?
JW: Correct. They generally commit to giving 2 or 3 pounds a month through direct debit.
JH: American donors are less open to allowing a charity to have access to their bank accounts. Why do you think the English are much more open to that than Americans?
JW: I’m not sure that we’re more open to it … I think there is a reluctant acceptance of direct debit. There are a lot of subscription organizations and the utility companies — gas and water and those guys — who push direct debit quite hard since it’s much cheaper to collect payments.
JH: So the typical British citizen pays many of their bills by direct debit?
JW: Yes. But older people still hate paying by direct debit. They’d rather send you cash.
JH: So what’s the avergage age of a typical donor over there? Over here our typical direct-mail donor is in his 60s or 70s. Are your donors much younger since most use direct debit?
JW: Yes. There are certain causes that have donors whose average age is in the 20s or 30s … for environmental groups like Green-peace. But for most charities, they’re typically older. They would be around 45 years old.
JH: We would love to have donors that young. But the typical direct-mail donor list in the United States is composed of strictly older donors.
JW: The American experience (of relying on direct mail) doesn’t work as well here for the simple reason that the cost equation for direct mail is so much worse in the U.K. The cost of postage is much higher because we don’t have a nonprofit rate. The print volumes are also very much lower and much more expensive. So direct mail is really struggling because the cost of sending a direct-mail pack in the U.K. is going higher and higher, and it’s priced almost out of the market. We simply can’t afford it anymore.