Study Shows Impact of Direct Mail in Gaining New Donors for Charitable Organizations

By John Delavan, Editor-in-Chief, Print Solutions

post-mark2-300x139New research shows that direct mail continues to outperform many electronic marketing channels when it comes to obtaining charitable donations, according to a report from AccurateLeads. A study by research company Campbell Rinker on behalf of the nonprofit advisory firm Dunham+Company found that people were more than three times as likely to donate after being contacted by direct mail than by email.

The researchers asked people making a donation what had prompted them to make their contribution to the charity. The portion of people who were donating after receiving a direct mail appeal was 17 percent, more than three times higher than the 5 percent who had been prompted to donate by an email.

The study also found that donors ages 40 to 59 were the most responsive to direct mail: 47 percent of them responded to receiving a letter by making a donation in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2010. Donors over 60 also responded well to direct mail: 24 percent of them donated in 2012 after receiving a letter, an increase of 6 percent since 2010.

Rick Dunham, CEO of Dunham+Company, described the study’s results as “a bit of a shock.” But perhaps there is a simple explanation: We may pay more attention to a physical object that comes into our mailbox than an email, which can be easily deleted with the click of a mouse. Although electronic campaigns are a good way to raise awareness and increase a charity’s visibility, it seems nonprofit organizations looking to raise funds should be wary of relying too heavily on only online campaigning. A combination of direct mail and digital marketing may offer the best return on investment.