Direct Mail Drop and Social Media Rise

Outside of a vibrant major gifts program direct mail is probably the number one way to raise money at most organizations. And direct mail will still be a major way to find donors for a long time to come but not forever. It appears that direct mail is on the decline. I know that I am way more responsive to an email that to any letter that I receive.

I think that we are still at the early stages of social media fundraising and we will see direct mail continue to decline and social media & online fundraising continue to grow. There are already organizations that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars using social media. Every organization needs to start developing a plan around using social media. Wouldn’t you rather be experimenting now than catching up when it is too late?

My advice is: don’t stop the direct mail campaigns that you are already doing. But, start to incorporate an online component. Start to figure out who your social media leaders are and how you can engage them. It will take a little bit of time to teach your donor community to raise money online but if we keep waiting we may find out that someday soon we are behind.

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4 Responses to Direct Mail Drop and Social Media Rise

  1. Mark Brooks says:

    My fear is that in the rush to be hip and with it we will throw out the baby with the bath water. I agree that Social Media needs to be in the mix of what we do. I also agree that it has the POTENTIAL to change everything. However we are not at that point now. For the last month I have been researching the impact of Social Media on raising funds. While there are some that have indeed raised some funds through this medium overall it is still a drop in the bucket. To date I personally have not responded to one email or other Social Media appeal for funds but have responded to several well crafted, old fashioned direct mail approaches. I think we need to at this point in time focus on Social Media more as an entry point rather than an end point.

  2. Tim Troutman says:

    Generation Y here. I agree with Mark and with the article that we need to be careful about jumping on every bandwagon. I think the future of fund-raising will be online (keyword there: future).

    Now even being in my 20s, I’m more likely to respond to direct mail than to social media appeals. But with that said, my organization has raised almost all its funds through social media and blogging etc… But, if I had money to invest, I’d be doing a direct mail campaign right now instead of social media. I’m using social media because it’s free. Once we do have some money, this might pay off because I’ve been forced to build an online presence.

  3. You are so right! Many e-mails do not even get opened these days. With the SPAM filters screen caps in the subject line plus other “attention getting” announcements. Facebook lately have been a great value and easy on the budget as well.

  4. Jayson says:

    I agree Jason, definitely need to start incorporating a social media component.

    We are just working through a lot of what you talk about in this post, with plans to roll out a small, web-only component of a larger campaign. The plan is to set it in motion with initial buy-in from a few media savvy supporters and see where it goes. We’ll review in a few months and see what did and what didn’t work. Really a trial run for future campaigns.

    Here’s a video with some recent (video posted in September) Social Media stats: Social Media Explained-Social Media Revolution

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