Wanted Dead or Alive: Direct Mail

in Copywriting - Nonprofit,Direct Mail,Fundraising

Actually the headline should be more like this . . .

WANTED: Answer to the question, “Is Direct Mail Alive or Dead?

Jeff Brooks had a good post – Yet again: Is direct mail dead? – on this yesterday in his blog, Future Fundraising Now.  And I added my 2-cents worth with a comment.

Bottom line: Direct mail is ALIVE and well. 

So why does the question keep coming up?  Maybe it’s because . . .

  • The cost of sending out a direct mail (DM) solicitation is higher than other channels.  And nonprofits might be cautiously seeking “permission” to use something else once DM is declared dead.
  • General industry trends are that response rates have been declining as the competition for donor funds increases (i.e., growing number of nonprofits in the marketplace).
  • Too many online marketers “pooh-pooh” direct mail.  They selfishly want you solely in their world.
  • The recession hasn’t helped response rates.
  • Online fundraising is newer and gets a lot of publicity.  Let’s go with what’s “new!”
  • Some folks leap to the yet unproven conclusion that DM response rates have declined because online fundraising is growing. 

The point savvy fundraisers and marketers are making is this: Do it RIGHT and direct mail can bring your nonprofit substantial amounts of revenue.  Do it poorly and you may believe the fault lies with the marketing channel (i.e., direct mail) instead of with the quality of the packages you’re mailing.

I recommend you read all the comments as well as Jeff’s post.  Why?  Because a number of reasons are given as to why you’ll risk how much revenue you raise if you ignore or reduce your direct mail efforts.   

Get better at direct mail instead of tossing in the towel and placing the future of your nonprofit at riskI love the online world.  But like my savvy clients, we know quality direct mail programs produce most of the revenue

Therefore, use a variety of fundraising and marketing channels.  This makes your nonprofit less vulnerable to market slumps and also gives you more flexibility. 

For most nonprofits this means leading with direct mail backed by a user friendly website.  Then introduce email.  Once all that is working very well you can venture into other online and mobile strategies to round out your fundraising and donor cultivation efforts.