Direct mail is dying. Again.

Let’s see — what forms of fundraising are dead or dying this week? Direct mail? Deader than a doornail. Radio? Pushing up the daisies. Email? Moribund.

That’s what it’s like to read some of the blogs in our industry. You can create a facsimile of vision by making sweeping proclamations about the death of entire fundraising media.

(One clown recently claimed that Twitter fundraising is about to kick the bucket. Really! It hasn’t even come to life yet, and it’s already dying!)

Newton’s Media Fix looks at these premature dire predictions at The Chicken Little Syndrome — The Sky is Falling!

… we are living in a changing world. Sure, there are new and exciting ways to communicate our message. Everyone thought when TV came on the scene that Radio was going to die and go away; when the Web came on the scene it was going to gobble up TV and TV was going to go away. Neither theories has proven to be true. Projections of doom are often overly-pessimistic and sometimes can cause very unwise reactions or, even worse, sudden over-reactions.

Change is inevitable. All the media are changing. We have to respond to these changes, or watch our efforts net less and less revenue for our causes.

But the only media likely to “die” anytime soon are the ones that never quite caught on in the first place. Like QR codes. And even then, I’d hesitate to pronounce them dead until it virtually no longer exists.

The fact that you (and all your buddies) never respond to direct mail says nothing about the health of direct mail. It doesn’t even point to a gloomy future for it. Direct mail is the greatest fundraising medium ever created — after the church collection plate. It’s changing, getting more complex and more expensive. But it’s not dying.

Next time you see, hear, or read someone telling you one of the established fundraising media is dead or dying, do this: Mentally mark that person as clueless; they have publicly displayed a mile-wide streak of either ignorance, incompetence, or irresponsibility. Take everything that person says with a big grain of salt until they prove themselves wiser and more reality-based.

And keep raising funds. By the media that work for you, not the ones people claim are the next big thing.


Comments

4 responses to “Direct mail is dying. Again.”

  1. Right on. Some people say that the university alumni phonathon is breathing its last. It isn’t. We just need to do a better job at it. By the way, I hate picking up the phone in the evening, but I don’t translate that into “phone is dead”. That’s how I give to the university I graduated from, while the mail piece tends to sit on the counter for weeks – it goes the way of all good intentions. Thus the danger of making any kind of decisions based on surveys or focus groups: What people tell you they prefer to respond to has no connection with what they actually DO respond to.

  2. Right on. Some people say that the university alumni phonathon is breathing its last. It isn’t. We just need to do a better job at it. By the way, I hate picking up the phone in the evening, but I don’t translate that into “phone is dead”. That’s how I give to the university I graduated from, while the mail piece tends to sit on the counter for weeks – it goes the way of all good intentions. Thus the danger of making any kind of decisions based on surveys or focus groups: What people tell you they prefer to respond to has no connection with what they actually DO respond to.

  3. Great post, I think non-profits need to figure out where their audience is and also work on how to integrate the fundraising mediums that their audiences are using. At my last nonprofit job they never wanted to mail anything, they said for budget reasons, but a lot of our donors were older and I think they missed out on opportunities by going to an almost exclusively online fundraising model. My new job is much more open to the ideas of integrating a mail, email and social media campaign which is really exciting!

  4. Great post, I think non-profits need to figure out where their audience is and also work on how to integrate the fundraising mediums that their audiences are using. At my last nonprofit job they never wanted to mail anything, they said for budget reasons, but a lot of our donors were older and I think they missed out on opportunities by going to an almost exclusively online fundraising model. My new job is much more open to the ideas of integrating a mail, email and social media campaign which is really exciting!

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

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.