Direct Mail: 'Old Fashioned' but it Still Works
I read yesterday that marketers can now choose from more than 60 channels to communicate their message. Now, I can't name all 60, but I do know that it seems like every week there is some new way we need to communicate our fundraising message.
That's good — we want to reach people where they are. The "Hey! Get over here!" approach to fundraising just lacks something ...
But amidst all the glitter and gigabytes of the new approaches, there is a stodgy, kind of dull fundraising tool that just won't go away — because it works. And that's direct mail.
On my desk is a basket filled with the direct-mail pieces I have received for the past several weeks. I get a lot of mail because I donate to organizations that (1) mail a lot; (2) rent my name to other nonprofits; and (3) don't seem to give up on me even if I only give once a year or so. Some of them also push the creative envelope (groan!) with their sizes, formats, contents and messages.
Since I am a confessed old dog, I'm not at all ashamed to admit I like direct mail for fundraising. I'm not saying I exclusively like direct mail for fundraising. But, for most nonprofits, direct mail needs to be a part of the fundraising mix. I'm not in cahoots with the USPS or with printers and mailers; rather, I simply love what works. And direct mail works.
Want proof? I received an e-mail from the executive director of a nonprofit that mailed in June to a group of former donors. He wrote, "Our response rate for that June appeal as of this week is 9.3 percent." Yes (for you skeptics), that means that just more than nine in 10 recipients of the letter didn't give, but a healthy percent that had been ignoring electronic communications took the time to open the letter, read (or scan) it, and make a donation.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.