We know you’ve been patiently waiting, and it’s finally here –  the 2024 Canadian Direct Mail Benchmarks Report  is now ready for you to download and discover!

The Cole’s Notes, you ask? TLDR: This year’s benchmarks are relatively flat, with minor swings up or down for the majority of indicators.

Direct mail fundraisers, you’ve weathered the storms of pandemic fundraising, and you’ve arrived at your new normal.

What's the role that DM Benchmarks 2024 plays in the story of direct mail fundraising?

This is my fifth DM Benchmarks report, so I’ve seen a thing or two. Every year, I wait anxiously for participants to share their data, for the analysis to be complete, for the story the data will tell (and we know you do, too!)

We never quite know what we’re going to get. It can be stressful, but hey – we’re fundraisers and that’s how we thrive!

The past few benchmarks reports have been, well, a bit of a rollercoaster. (Apologies for the over-used analogy, but there’s no better way to describe it.)

We saw direct mail response skyrocket in 2020 and 2021, as COVID tanked in-person fundraising (and showed direct mail to be the loyal, stable revenue source we always knew she was). Then in 2022, thanks especially to rising costs, we saw results drop dramatically after two years of exponential growth.

This year, we saw a calming. The rollercoaster resembles more of a Merry-Go-Round. No more huge lifts, or big declines. And, just as small children squeal with glee over stationary unicorns, it feels good to be getting back to something of a steady state. For the first time since 2020, DM Benchmarks 2024 signals that we can look ahead and plan more strategically, and with more confidence, knowing that there will be fewer pandemic-driven curveballs.

Direct Mail Benchmarks 2024 highlights and takeaways

So, what stands out in this year’s report? A few things caught my eye:

  • We saw direct mail revenue decline by the exact same amount that other channel revenue (which includes digital) rose – that is, 14%. Coincidence? Maybe, but we don’t think so. This is perfectly in-line with what we’ve been seeing with our own clients, and with what we learned in 2022’s Changing Tides report: 66% of donations that are triggered by the mail are made online. Donors get a piece of mail, they’re delighted and inspired to give, then they pull out a phone to scan a QR code or navigate to your main donation form to make the gift. It’s an illustration of the multi-channel donor experience at work – something that we fundraisers need to be mindful of when we’re building campaigns and analyzing their results!
  • Acquisition remains incredibly expensive. With a cost to acquire of $161, and an average acquisition gift of $60, this means you need to secure three gifts to make a donor profitable. Thankfully, this year we added acquisition source benchmarks, so you can mix-and-match the streams that best fit your needs! Rented and traded lists yielded the best response rates at 1.1% and 1.9% respectively, while ex-patient and unaddressed mailings boasted a higher average gift ($117 for ex-patients and $155 for unaddressed).
  • Hospital foundation benchmarks are substantially lower, almost across the board, than their non-hospital counterparts. In fact, we’ve chosen to split them out this year to avoid heavily skewing the results for everyone else! Hospital foundations are struggling to renew donors, with renewal rates at 55%, compared to non-hospital rates of 66%, thanks in no small part to response rates that are 1.8-points lower than other causes. Even so, hospital foundations saw a smaller decline in response rates, and they boast an average gift that’s $96 higher than non-hospital charities!

These are just a few of our findings, but there’s so much more to see in the report – including the handy-dandy printable one-pager of all the benchmarks for easy reference

Who makes direct mail benchmarks possible? You do!

Can we take a second to celebrate the 49 charities who shared their direct mail results with us in 2024?

Give ‘em a round of applause. Raise the roof. Send them a cosmic hug. However you choose to thank them, we join you – because DM Benchmarks simply wouldn’t be possible without them, and they make our entire sector better as a result of their efforts.

And yes, you read that right – any charity can take part in DM Benchmarks! It’s not just for Good Works clients (after all, we’d skew the results!).  Plus, participants get their own benchmarks report as a thank-you.