How Donors Prefer to Give

If you knew the world would end tomorrow, what would you do?

Quit your job and party hearty? Go into a deep gloom? Spend everything you’ve got on one last big splurge?

Martin Luther, sixteenth century theologian, is reputed to have said, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.”

Cheer up! This post is not about the coming apocalypse, nor is it a sermonette. It’s just a reminder about the importance of planning – and planting – for the future, no matter how things look right now.

If you have a pulse, you will have seen studies documenting the decline in new donor acquisition. It is dramatic and cuts across virtually all nonprofits. Some have concluded that the end of the direct mail world has come. No sense fighting it. Give up.

While it is of course essential to diversify your acquisition strategies across multiple channels, don’t lose sight of the value of direct mail. Costs continue to rise, response rates continue to drop – and direct mail-acquired donors continue to convert at a much higher rate than online-acquired. We typically see 12-month conversion rates of 50-55% for DM-acquired, compared to 20-25% for online acquired. And they stick with you and deliver value over time.

Acquisition is an investment in your organization’s future. It is a major expense, so it pays to be smart about it. DM testing can deliver rewards. We just tested a new package – a creative concept that had proven a winner in online market research – and it delivered a 10% lift in response among DM prospects.

There is no doubt that donors’ channel preferences are changing.

However, when you take into account age, valuable information emerges.

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM media usage study

So put away the party hats and cancel the shopping spree. It’s time to go plant a tree. We’ll need the paper for a few more years, at least.

By: Cliff Marshall