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Reports of direct mail’s death have been greatly exaggerated. But that doesn’t stop the chatter at just about any nonprofit, fundraising, or marketing professionals’ gathering.

Listen closely and you’ll probably hear comments like these…

“Direct mail is SO yesterday. How many times a day are you tweeting?”

“We cut our direct mail budget by 70 percent to focus on text to give and social media.”

“We decided to skip our April mailings in order to budget for a Pinterest launch.”

The Truth About Direct Mail

According to a recent Direct Marketing Association Report—and supported by our own client results—direct mail consistently performs as the most cost-effective and wide-reaching broad-based fundraising method.

Take a look at the numbers:

  • Depending on the nonprofit organization, the direct mail channel often delivers between 60 and 80 percent of total revenue. The email channel provides between 5 and 15 percent.
  • On average, direct mail response rates stand at 10 to 30 times that of email, and even higher when compared to online display.

Direct Mail and Major Gifts

Direct mail drives the best results at the upper end of the giving pyramid, too. When it comes to communicating with major givers, here are a few important things to know:

  1. Among major donors, those who were initially cultivated through direct mail gave significantly more than those who made a major gift through a personal request or other channel.
  2. Major donors cultivated on an ongoing basis through direct mail tend to give several gifts over a lifetime, but major donors who come in through other channels more often give single gifts.

How to Optimize Your Direct Mail Efforts in the Digital Age

However, traditional direct mail no longer stands alone. If we’re going to reach and cultivate our donors in this fast-paced, Internet-savvy, social-media-focused culture, then speaking to them in the most effective way possible is critical.

It’s time to add to our fundraising repertoire, not replace it. It’s time to evolve.

Is direct mail your best-performing fundraising channel? Do you have the tools you need to know your donors’ preferences and speak to them accordingly?