TNT Post have just released the results of a poll on the importance of direct mail for raising funds.

They surveyed 2,000 British adults and found that:

  • One-third of people who give to charity are prompted to do so by receiving direct mail appeals.
  • 57% of people who respond to mailing packs do so by mail.
  • 87% of people who want more information about the charity go online.

It’s great that another survey shows the continuing importance of direct mail, but what it really demonstrates is the importance of integrating online and offline activity.

An appeal pack might get people thinking about giving, but a substantial percentage of your supporters will turn to your website to actually hand over the cash.

This is nothing new. A 2008 study by Harris Interactive for the NonProfit Times found that 17% of online gifts were prompted by direct mail appeals.

Donors prefer to give in the way that works for them. You can see this in action by keeping an eye on your online giving. A mailing substantially boosts the income coming through your website.

And unless you take time to track what’s happening, you might not fully appreciate just how important direct mail is to your online fundraising.You’ll also miss out on the extra income that integrating online and offline activity can generate.

It doesn’t take much work to raise more funds. These are just a few basic ideas that I’d recommend you try…

  • Feature your appeal on your home page. If you are running a TV campaign, put the ad on your home page as well. It’s an approach used commercially and it works for charities too.
  • Configure your online donation form so it links with your DM campaign. Feature the same stories and photographs. Repeat the call to action you use on your donation form too.
  • Can you extend the story? Video, more photographs, more information and up to date news can all be a reason to go online and nudge donors in the direction of giving.
  • Can you offer auto-fill on your donation forms? Anything you can do to make giving easier works!
  • An email reminder can add another 5% to your bottom line (and often more).
  • And more importantly, a thank you / update showing how donations have been used, can generate a substantial second wave of donations.
  • Don’t forget to use your social media activity to support your appeal – videos work very well.

And if you think you don’t need to worry about this because your old donors don’t go online, think again. A study by Pew Internet shows older people are embracing the internet and social networking in ever greater numbers. You can read more about this here.

Update: details of another study on what donors are looking for when they go online can be found here.