Direct Mail Really Is Not Dead

September 13, 2016       The NonProfit Times      

While the eulogy may be written and the gravestone carved, wait just a moment before you start playing that funeral dirge, because direct mail is not dead. While anyone who is anyone has been predicting the end of direct mail, the Internet has not entirely usurped direct mail as the primary way that nonprofits attract and maintain donors.

While direct mail might not be dead, it is however, in a period of transition. Because of this, it is essential to embrace an omni-channel approach to donor engagement. Smart leaders are not waiting for direct mail to completely disappear before investigating other engagement channels and diversifying their fundraising methods.

With the many different channels of modern day marketing and existing, tech-savvy supporters, the only thing that is dead is single channel fundraising.
Being multichannel is no longer an option. It is mandatory. It is important to combine multiple smaller interactions to acquire and retain donors over time. Planting seeds, nurturing relationships, and letting donors grow roots is the way to create long-term engagement.

Nonprofit leaders should still note the long-term value of direct mail, as is continues to help feed recurring, mid-level, and planning giving. Continuing direct mailings, in addition to embracing new platforms, such as online platforms to engage with younger donors, is the best way to stay current.

Even if direct mail did disappear today, it may cause some short-term challenges, but it would not end all fundraising. However, in a time where we, as a culture, are transitioning away from direct mail, leaders need to de-risk revenue sources through diversification. The future belongs to those leaders who embrace the shift that is happening across the sector.