Dust Off Your Typewriter!
As soon as I wrote that subject line, I shuddered with the thought: I wonder how many Agitator fundraisers have actually ever owned a typwwriter?!
A real typewriter (I’ll accept electrics).
I’m guessing 20% max. What do you think? Indeed, will you confess to having owned one?
I’m on to typewriters having glanced at some of the stats from M+R’s latest Benchmark Study looking at the online practices — email, websites, digital ads, social media — of 133 nonprofits in 2016, as reported by The NonProfit Times.
Actually, I didn’t need to get beyond the headline: “Study: It Took 2,000 Emails To Get 1 Gift In 2016”. And this reflects declining response rates for fundraising messages — 0.05%, down 8% from 2015. Not good news.
For every 1,000 fundraising emails delivered, nonprofits raised $36.
If you were a copywriter focused on the digital medium, I think you’d be heartsick. Is there a caucus or support group for digital copywriters yet? Is there a developing creative skill set in the medium yet?
A direct mail copywriter whose work averaged a return of $36/1,000 would probably be looking for other work!
My advice to you direct mail copywriters out there … stick to your knitting. You’ll never go out of demand. To paraphrase: “Show them the money”!
The other day, Jeff Brooks at Future Fundraising Now observed that with overall giving growing only 1-3%, the higher increases in online giving amounted to cannibalization. He was reacting to this analysis by Ryan Garnett at npENGAGE.
I agree, the 14% year-over-year increase in online revenue reported by M+R, if applied to the entire sector, would suggest that most of the growth in online revenue is actually coming from channel-shifting … more donors are simply completing their transactions online — however inspired, including mainly direct mail. The meager online acquisition stats would seem to bear that out.
The best news I see in the report is that online monthly giving grew 23%. Monthly giving should become the powerhouse of every nonprofit’s direct marketing revenue, enabled by the automaticity of online giving.
Despite my cynicism, the M+R Report is an excellent contribution to our sector, providing nonprofits a great opportunity to do exactly what the report says … benchmark your online performance against others in your sector. You can get the full report here.
Now, where is that typewriter?
P.S. The bottomline in Ryan Garnett’s analysis should be heeded:
“…to increase your online giving you need to continue to invest in direct mail and other traditional sources of fundraising revenue. Yes, you should be sending regular e-mails. And yes, you should post regular updates to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. The more integrated the messaging across channels, the better fundraising results you will see. But you shouldn’t re-allocate all of your resources to online just because that’s your fastest growing revenue channel.” Amen.
P.P.S. For a contrary view, read The Future of Donor Acquisition Is Digital.