publication date: Jun 13, 2011
Most donors give through just one channel - direct mail. And
even new donors acquired online switch "in large numbers to direct mail giving
in subsequent years."
That's not a promo from a direct mail specialist. It's the
carefully verified conclusion from Target
' five-year study of 28 large nonprofits with a cumulative total
of 15 million donors and over $1 billion in revenue.
value better if they switch
The Internet is without doubt a successful acquisition
channel, Target says, but it's not effective for retention. Online-acquired
donors that start giving through direct mail as well show a significant uptick
in their retention and lifetime value when compared to the online-only cohort.
And whether or not donors are giving through multiple
channels won't help you predict their value and likelihood of retention. To
evaluate that, use the same yardstick direct marketers have used for ages - recency,
frequency, and amount.
"It is the ability of online-acquired donors to use another
channel - that is, to start giving through direct mail - that significantly
boosts the long-term value of this group of donors," said Rob Harris
, Target Analytics' director of analytic products and a
co-author of the study. "The most successful organizations have integrated
online and offline marketing teams and CRM systems to develop effective
multichannel communication strategies that can maximize donor value."
Other key findings about online donors include:
The majority of gifts are still received through
direct mail, although it has become increasingly common for new donors to give
their first gift online.
Online-acquired donors are significantly younger
and tend to have higher household incomes than mail-acquired donors.
Online-acquired donors tend to give much larger
gifts but have slightly lower retention rates than mail-acquired donors.
As a group, online-acquired donors have much
higher cumulative value over the long term than traditional mail-acquired
donors. However, long-term value varies depending on the donor's original gift
The substantially higher initial gift amounts
given by online-acquired donors can mask issues with retention.
Every year, high percentages of online-acquired
donors switch from online to offline giving, primarily to direct mail. The
reverse is not true, however. Only a tiny percentage of mail-acquired donors
give online in later years.
Download the complete report