What they really mean when they say “direct mail is dead”

When was the last time you heard someone pronounce “Direct mail is dead”?

Probably in the last few days, right?

It gets said a lot, even though it’s observably false.

Direct mail is the powerhouse of fundraising. Bigger by orders of magnitude than the next runner-up, which is telemarketing. And even further ahead than the shiny objects those “direct mail is dead” guys are touting.

Next time you hear that big lie, keep in mind what those guys are really saying:

I have no experience in direct mail, and no ability to put it to use. So I need to get you to believe direct mail is not effective, so you’ll pay me to do something other than direct mail.

And here’s the crazy thing: people who are bad at direct mail are almost always bad at other fundraising channels too. Because they don’t understand real-life donors, whether they’re talking to them through direct mail, email, social media, or any other channel.

“Direct mail is dead” really means, “Run away from me as fast as you can, because I can spend a lot of your money getting you nowhere!”


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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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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.

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