When will the direct mail fundraising era be over?

Some guy confidently told me the other day that “nobody gives to direct mail fundraising any more. We are in the online fundraising age.”

You’ve probably heard from that guy too.

The facts don’t support him.

In fact, The Agitator says the online fundraising age may not begin until 2030: New Era Begins In 17 Years.

Here’s where they got 17 years: Riffing from the recent Blackbaud report, which notes that online fundraising made up 6.4% of fundraising revenue in 2013, and grew by 13.5%.

If you assume annual growth of 13.5% in online giving we’ll be at 7.3% at the end of this year. In 2024 it will hit 25.8%. It will finally become the majority of giving in 2030, at 55.1%.

That’s when the online fundraising age begins.

It’s a wild assumption that online fundraising would grow at 13.5% every year for the next 17 years. We could cross that 50% of revenue raised online much sooner — or later — than that.

The important point is this: We are not yet in the online era. Direct mail is still the king of fundraising. If you are serious about raising funds, you need to be serious about direct mail. And it’s going to be that way for a while.

Organizations that ignore direct mail because they perceive it as “over” are just being irresponsible.

Of course, you’d have to be crazy to ignore online fundraising. Anything that grows double-digits every year is clearly important. And 17 years is just around the corner.

Be realistic. Don’t be the guy who makes wild and unsupportable claims.


Comments

8 responses to “When will the direct mail fundraising era be over?”

  1. Jeff, direct mail still gets attention when our inboxes still overflow with junk. It’s about a traditional/digital multichannel approach. Check out this Entrepreneur post on the same subject: Social Media is Great, But Don’t Forget Old School Marketing. It underscores your point.
    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232025

  2. Jeff, direct mail still gets attention when our inboxes still overflow with junk. It’s about a traditional/digital multichannel approach. Check out this Entrepreneur post on the same subject: Social Media is Great, But Don’t Forget Old School Marketing. It underscores your point.
    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232025

  3. Why do you not offer a button to share this story in LinkedIn? I think it is a great article, and I would like to share it, but can only copy & paste the url now. Loses a lot of impact this way.

  4. Why do you not offer a button to share this story in LinkedIn? I think it is a great article, and I would like to share it, but can only copy & paste the url now. Loses a lot of impact this way.

  5. Savannah Bural Avatar
    Savannah Bural

    Glad to know I have job security for at least a little while yet.

  6. Savannah Bural Avatar
    Savannah Bural

    Glad to know I have job security for at least a little while yet.

  7. Shelley Sweeney Avatar
    Shelley Sweeney

    According to a Print in the Mix survey, 56 percent of respondents said that they found printed materials to be the “most trustworthy” of media channels. This statistic also supports your statement that print is still “king.” Today, printers and designers have an array of tools at their disposal to create innovative and beautiful printed pieces from brochures and marketing materials to invitations and RSVP cards for fundraising events. Online fundraising is a great opportunity and many donors may be looking for that type of medium, however fundraising professionals need to make sure they are still utilizing print to communicate with donors. Combining digital and online aspects into printed pieces can be a very effective way to cater to the needs of everyone in your donor base. – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

  8. Shelley Sweeney Avatar
    Shelley Sweeney

    According to a Print in the Mix survey, 56 percent of respondents said that they found printed materials to be the “most trustworthy” of media channels. This statistic also supports your statement that print is still “king.” Today, printers and designers have an array of tools at their disposal to create innovative and beautiful printed pieces from brochures and marketing materials to invitations and RSVP cards for fundraising events. Online fundraising is a great opportunity and many donors may be looking for that type of medium, however fundraising professionals need to make sure they are still utilizing print to communicate with donors. Combining digital and online aspects into printed pieces can be a very effective way to cater to the needs of everyone in your donor base. – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

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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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