According to The Next Generation of American Giving, from 2010 to 2018, reported use of direct mail has fallen from 49% of donors to 23%. What’s worrying about this precipitous decline is that there does not appear to be a concomitant increase in online giving to make up for this loss. In terms of dollars, online giving is making steady gains. However, online does not appear to be filling the void left by direct mail’s decline.
Among older generations, like Baby Boomers, online is gaining ground. As recently as 2013, it appeared that reported use of online giving by all generations surpassed direct mail giving by 2%, and in 2018, this gap widened to 8%. All generations’ declining preferences for direct mail giving could represent a leading indicator that presages a real-world decline in direct mail performance.
Despite these trends, there is a direct mail anomaly. Even as reported giving by direct mail appears to be plunging, all generations still say that it is an acceptable way to be asked to give. Among older generations, like Boomers and Matures, it remains one of the only broadly accepted solicitation channels. While the number of options and platforms for giving continues to proliferate, the data shows that supporters remain open to receiving direct mailings. Given its ability to bring in such a significant chunk of your giving pie (roughly nine times more than emails), it remains a viable foundation for your fundraising program.