Can't we all just get along?” asks Kim Cubine of direct response fundraising agency Adams Hussey.

She's commenting on yesterday's Agitator post, which referenced the “Great Debate” at recent Bridge Conference between direct mail and online donor fundraising.

Nothing like hard data to back up a point! Here's her full comment:

“Instead of debating which channel is the most effective we should be creating multiple giving opportunities for our clients.

Donor silos are set to fail. Donors are humans, we can market to them based on last behavior, but we also must remember that donors are fickle and might feel like answering their phone or openng their mail one day. So it is important to use an integrated, multiple means of communication.

Our research for one client demonstrates this specifically: In analyzing the behavior of First Time Online Donors from the current membership, it was facinating to and redeeming to prove this. Before making their First Online gift, 27 % gave to a prospect direct mail package. 17% to an direct mail or phone appeal appeal. And 21.6 % had made a renewal gift thru the mail or phone prior to making their FIRST online gift. We then analyzed subsequent gift behavior Post First Time online gift: 24% gave their next gift online donors and 48% gave their next gift either through direct mail or the phone. [Ed note: apparently balance made no further gifts.]

This analysis included 2 years worth of data and over 28,000 gifts.

So stop the food fight and gather at the common table – there is a big feast to enjoy.”

We agree 1000% with Kim's core point that donors, not fundraisers, will choose how donors will give. And the data is clear that donors will cross back and forth across channels to suit their own needs and preferences.

That said, we also stand by our observation yesterday that, so far, direct mail still outperforms online in most instances when it comes to new donor acquisition. Even when causes conduct exciting online issue campaigns that use petition-signing etc. to generate new e-names, those names convert to donors more efficiently through direct mail follow-up.

There are lots of reasons, however, why the trendline favors online acquisition in the years to come. That's why we've predicted online fundraising revenue will overtake direct mail within ten years.

Meantime, here's more hard data confirming the virtues of integrating your fundraising channels and tactics NOW! This White Paper from Convio based on the experience of SPCA of Texas should convince you. Bottomline from Convio: “Donors engaged through multiple communications channels have higher long-term value, retention and lifetime value.” Nuff said!

Integrate or get fired!

Roger & Tom

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