What Aretha Franklin Can Teach Fundraisers About Direct-Mail Response and Online Giving
Online giving, specifically in response to your direct-mail appeals, is a quickly evolving phenomenon that can no longer be ignored. In fact, it’s a big part of the reason we’ve been hearing over the past couple of years that direct-mail fundraising results are declining.
If your prospects, donors and members respond to your mail by donating, joining and renewing online (and they are, more and more each day), and your organization has no commitment to tracking these responses and crediting them as “mail response” — then yes, you will see a decline in your direct-mail results. Online gifts are perhaps simply tracked as and credited to “online fundraising,” and your mail appeals — as well as your mail program overall — become a victim of circumstance.
Aretha Franklin would be appalled. This evolution of how people are responding to mail is getting very little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Most nonprofit organizations are committed to tracking mail responses to their direct-mail appeals. They are equally committed to tracking online responses to online appeals. But when it comes to results analysis and reporting, these online responses to direct-mail appeals often, and unfortunately, remain in the “online” column.
Now, before we get into how to fix this issue, consider these four facts:
- Direct mail generated almost $8 of every $10 donated to nonprofits in 2009.
- Your donors and members have come to expect that anything they can do offline, they should be able to do online.
- One in three donors who give online say that a direct-mail piece triggers her to visit the charity’s website to make a gift.
- Online gifts are typically 25 percent to 35 percent higher than gifts by mail.
The main reason online gifts in response to direct mail go into cyberspace is that most organizations simply do not have … a) a viable tracking field on their online-giving forms and b) a system in place so donors can simply type in the source code printed on their reply devices. Why is this so difficult? It seems relatively simple to add a message and (at least) a radio button field on the online-giving form that reads: