So, how did your direct mail program do this year?

That’s the question that’s on every mail fundraiser’s mind as we head into the final stretch of year-end. Gifts are being processed, cheques are being opened, digital campaigns are being scheduled – and through it all, we’re watching to see: Will we hit our targets – or even blow them away?

Early in January, you’ll come back rested and ready to see how your direct mail program performed. You can slice and dice the data a million ways, and we know you’ll be checking gross and net revenues, response rates, and average gifts.

But when a Good Works team is looking at our clients’ performance this year, we’ll be asking more than that. We go beyond individual gifts and campaigns, and look at the health of an entire program. Here’s what we’ll be looking for when we analyze 2021 performance for direct mail:

How have donors moved between channels?

For several years, we’ve been seeing online revenue growing faster than the mail, and making up a larger and larger proportion of revenue – and COVID expedited that dramatically as donors who previously preferred to give through the mail made the switch the online giving. So, when you’re looking at your direct response revenue, take a look at the split across channels as well as within the channels themselves.

If you, like many of our clients, are seeing that mail/online shift, don’t let it fool you! Just because the mail isn’t the channel the gift comes through on, doesn’t mean it’s not the channel that did the persuasive heavy-lifting. We’re already seeing solid data that backs up what we’ve long suspect: that donors take a multi-channel approach to giving, the same way we take a multi-channel approach to fundraising.

Want to know more about the importance of an integrated mail/digital approach? We’ve got you – keep your eyes peeled for the State of the Integration Nation, our newest piece of research, in February 2022 to see the trends!

Are donors giving more than one gift?

Gift frequency is truly an underestimated metric. In the world of annual giving, it’s easy to get caught in that idea of an ‘annual’ gift: once a year, like clockwork.

But think about it: What if you could get the donors you have to give twice a year instead of once? Revenues would grow, without the burden up actually growing your file (which, as we all know, is harder and harder to do).

Even if a donor’s average one-time gift comes down as a result, would you rather a single $100 gift, or two $60 donations? And never mind the implications for donor loyalty – the single greatest indicator that a donor is likelier to leave a gift in their wills.

That’s the power of gift frequency in direct mail. So, are your annual donors giving more than just once a year? A diverse mail program, with a mix of creative asks grounded in different programs and services, can help you there.

How well are your donors renewing and reactivating?

When you look at the performance of a campaign, you look at response rate. But when you want to see the health of a direct mail program, renewal rate – that is the number of donors who gave last year AND this year – and reactivation rate (the number of donors who’d lapsed, but are now back on track) are vital.

Renewal and reactivation tell you so much about your program. They tell you about donor interest in the types of asks you’re putting forward, and the way you’re making those asks. They tell you about donor loyalty and opportunities to upgrade. And, on a more practical note, they tell you how many new donors you’re going to need to acquire to maintain your status quo, and even to grow.

Last year, thanks to the 2020 Direct Mail Benchmarks report, we know that the average direct mail program had a 70.7% renewal rate. And next year, at the request of the many Canadian charities who’ve come to know and love this report, we’ll be adding reactivation rate too! You’ll know exactly how you measure up to the sector with regards to two of our most vital metrics.

You can sign up here to make sure you receive DM Benchmarks as soon as it’s ready. Or, if you want to be a part of the report, sign up here to get involved (and get your very own benchmarks report as a thank you!)


Want to talk more about your mail program and how it measures up? Drop me a line – and don’t forget to sign up for Good Works research to be the first to see 2021 DM Benchmarks and 2022’s State of the Integration Nation!