New 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
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
What success stories can you share involving the success of direct mail in
soliciting donations for a nonprofit/charity-related client? Share your insights
in the comments.