It’s officially summer vacation season, so if you haven’t yet gotten your hands on this year’s All-Canadian Direct Mail Benchmarks study, I’ll forgive you! (But it is a rather good poolside read, if you want to download it here.)

We gathered data from 52 incredible organizations across the country, and uncovered Canadian-specific benchmarks for things like response rate, average gift, renewal rate, and even average acquisition costs.

Participating organizations ranged widely in mission, size, and annual revenue totals. They represent all sectors of philanthropy and range in size from small and mighty to big and beautiful.

We had all this data at our fingertips, so we got to thinking…. When it comes to direct mail benchmarks, does size really matter? Here, by size, we mean the size of the direct mail program as it relates to revenue totals only. (Other determining factors like the number of staff or annual budget figures were not included in the data provided.)

We divided the charities into five revenue buckets, using their direct mail gross revenue totals from 2019. We ended up with roughly ten organizations per bucket.

And here’s what we found!

Generally speaking, we found that the average response rate tends to increase with direct mail revenue totals. Note these figures and those that follow were calculated for the organization’s House mailings only (and did not include any results from acquisition activities).

The average gift by revenue fluctuated quite a bit between revenue buckets, but interestingly, the higher gift amounts are found in the organizations with smaller direct mail programs. This may, however, have something to do with gift frequency…

Gift frequency speaks to the average number of gifts a donor makes each year. We found that figure to increase with revenue levels.

So while the average gift for organizations bringing in less than $100,000 annually is much higher than the other buckets, their donors aren’t giving as often. It’s likely that organizations with smaller DM programs don’t have the budget or resources to mail their donors regularly. If that’s the case, charities with larger DM programs are proving that more frequent asks will result in more frequent gifts.

With average renewal rates, we found that once again, the benchmark increases with the revenue totals. It could very well be that the charities with larger DM programs have the resources to offer their donors more chances to renew their gift in the calendar year.


So does size matter? Turns out it does…at least a little bit. For a deeper dive into all this year’s benchmarks, watch my webinar on the subject here!

And if you want to participate in next year’s report, please email me.