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I have posted many articles on this blog regarding the need for churches, ministries, and nonprofits to continue to use direct mail as a means of donor development.  But I’m always met with some push back from people focused more on texting, or online giving. After all, e-mail and social media are cheap and quick and they target a vast percentage of the population. But the problem is this: for all their promises of being quick and easy, e-blasts and social media still do not do well with the target market who is actually giving the lion’s share of gifts to ministries and other non-profits.

Here is a staggering number for you:  Only 7% of all charitable giving is done online.

Mary Hutchinson, President of Inspired Direct, asked the e-communication questions that matter most to Lynn Howes, Partner at Analytical Ones. Collectively, Hutchinson and Howes have done comprehensive analysis and reporting for ministries of all sizes.

Here are some of the nuggets she shared with me:

• People use Smartphones to read information, but they don’t give (apart from the $10 text here and there). It’s pretty easy to understand this one; most people don’t want to key in all the credit card data, and are concerned about mobile privacy.
• The industry standard for email open-rates is 14.72%. The click through rate is only .7%
• Industry standard for visitors to the websites converting to donors is 2%.
• Your email list should be growing by 22% a year or something is wrong.
• There is no right answer on how often to e-blast. Every ministry is different, and content is king. Your donors will tell you (and show you through their giving frequency) how often you should be communicating with them via e-blasts.
• Your best donors give via multiple channels (i.e. direct mail and phone, or direct mail and email).

The conclusion?  There’s no question that email, texting, and online giving are growing, and will become more critical in the future. But the statistics indicate that the vast majority of giving to nonprofits, churches, and social causes is still through the mail. Part of the reason is that the older demographic are the greatest givers (by far), and mail is their preference.

The final word is this:  It’s not about how we want them to give, it’s about how THEY want to give.  Provide every possible platform for fundraising to your donors.  Continue exploring other ways of giving, but don’t dismiss direct mail.  It’s still doing the heaving lifting when it comes to helping organizations change the world.

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