Stat of the Month: Fundraising
Heavily reliant on direct mail in good times and bad (such as now!), the fundraising sector continues to mail in 2008 despite economic woes, postal hikes and cash-strapped prospects. Study after study shows that even when prospective donors have less money, they will continue to give, just at lower dollar amounts.
That's certainly what the fundraising sector hopes for in the uncertain future, in which nonprofits really have no choice but to stick to their guns. Full-sized packages, premium usage, personalization techniques, long letters . . . all of this costs more money today, but these are also the packages that continue to work for nonprofits.
Taking a close look at the mail from the January to August (the last month we have recorded data for 2008) period over the last five years, it's clear that direct mail fundraisers are staying with their tried-and-true packages, even with their myriad premium offers, and mailing just as often. Indeed, in the Who's Mailing What! Archive, the world's greatest library of direct mail, fundraising mail took up a larger chunk of the mailstream, zooming up from 11.8 percent in 2007 to 14.9 percent this year, a record high in our Archive. And control mailings actually went up from 2007, climbing from 34.2 percent to 40.7 percent so far in 2008.
Even packages with premiums that cost nonprofits more are up, as 15.8 percent of efforts included a premium this year - the last year that figure was higher was way back in 2004 (at 21.5 percent). Meanwhile, personalization continues to be a reliable technique, logging in at 47.5 percent this year after hovering between 46 percent and 52.1 percent the previous four years.
The one area where one would look for a shift in fundraising mail is usage of the self-mailer format, such as when Save the Children sent out a successful triple postcard back in November of 2007 (profiled in Inside Direct Mail's February 2008 issue). But no shift has occurred, yet, with the percentage of efforts being self-mailers actually sinking to its lowest level in the past five years, to 4.1 percent this year.