Fundraising is admittedly my favorite part of the mailstream, for it usually represents what’s great about direct mail: targeting prospects properly (in this case, prospective donors), employing top-notch copywriting, educating the audience about a worthy cause and being unafraid to send out a full-sized package, even in the wake of the postal hikes.
Indeed, it’s lovingly stubborn, often sticking with the same type of controls that have been working wonders, from minor to major, for years. Recently, in the November Inside Direct Mail, I wrote an “Anatomy of a Control” article about PETA’s unbelievable 21-year-old control that still brings in the donations; sure, it’s been updated, but the essence of that package, the survey, has barely changed.
Well, looking carefully at the January to August period over the past four years reveals that not a lot has changed for fundraising mail in general—and, again, that’s a good thing. Each year, it took up nearly 12 percent of the mailstream, with 2006 being the only exception at 14 percent.
Similarly, in each of the last three years, a little more that 13 percent of fundraising mail offered a premium (after coming in at a much higher percentage, 21.5 percent, in 2004). Bucking trends in other sectors, self-mailers remain slow-to-warm at only 4.5 percent of all fundraising efforts over the last two years.
The only indication of some experimentation among fundraising mailers is that, at least in the first eight months of this year, repeat mail is down and personalization is up. After nearly 50 percent of fundraising mail dwelling in the repeat category last year, it dropped to 34.2 percent this year. Personalization, meanwhile, is up to 52.1 percent after subsisting in the mid-40s for the past three years.