How to deal with those pesky cross-channel donors

Recent research done for Dunham+Company has some interesting findings about the ways donors mix channels when they give: Direct Mail a Critical Driver of Online Giving

Before I go on though, I need to briefly do my standard rant about survey research: A survey tells you what people say. That’s not necessarily what they actually do. Almost everybody overestimates their charitable giving. Most people think they’re more tech-savvy than they actually are. Always take survey research with a grain of salt. It’s directional at best, and totally misleading at worst.

This one’s interesting nevertheless, and probably directional, giving us an idea what goes on. The most interesting findings, I think, are:


  • 14% said a direct mail letter prompted them to give online.
  • 6% who said an email prompted them to give an online gift.
  • 37% who said they give online say that when they receive a direct mail appeal from a charity they use the charity’s website to give their donation.

If these figures are even close to correct (and they might be), we see a picture of a pretty significant portion of donors messing around with our media channels. What used to be neat and clean and trackable, may be getting a lot less so as donors respond where they choose to respond, not just where we ask them to.

It brings these thoughts to mind:


  • Some direct-mail gifts are migrating online. This could be a partial explanation for the general drop in direct-mail response rates over the last few years. We need to find ways to count those gifts that are being motivated by one channel but happening in another. And we should test ways to work with this behavior, not against it.
  • You might say direct mail is a more effective way to raise funds online than email. Weird, huh?
  • Integrated messaging matters. People appear to be engaging with both your mail and your website. Do you have the same messaging, look, and feel on both?

Comments

2 responses to “How to deal with those pesky cross-channel donors”

  1. Interesting post. In a way it’s not surprising that people are choosing to give online in response to direct mail – for one thing, it lets them retain closer control over sensitive data such as their credit card details, plus, if donors are researching the charities they give to more due to the recession, the internet seems the logical place to do that.

  2. Interesting post. In a way it’s not surprising that people are choosing to give online in response to direct mail – for one thing, it lets them retain closer control over sensitive data such as their credit card details, plus, if donors are researching the charities they give to more due to the recession, the internet seems the logical place to do that.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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