A sometimes overlooked, but essential, element of a nonprofit’s direct mail program is data analysis. Simply put: direct mail, done right, relies heavily on analyzing data. Your nonprofit may love the way your package looks, or the story told inside, but data tells you if your package is a winner. And setting up valid tests — and being able to properly analyze them — helps to increase the effectiveness of your direct mail. A new digital resource from the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC) — Using the Right Ruler: Measuring Results in Direct Mail — reviews key metrics of data analysis to help nonprofits better evaluate their direct mail program. A particular focus of the NCDC resource is guidance for nonprofits on making decisions based on ROI (return on investment) and LTV (long term value of donors): “While both tests [ROI and LTV] provide insight into a charity’s mailing strategy, a test analyzed with one method may be better suited for the organization based on their needs.” The report continues: For example, focusing on long term value offers you a smaller pool of donors with a long life and a good dollar average and is best if the charity is concerned with identifying the lowest cost of fundraising. Whereas focusing on return on investment gives you donors with a shorter life, but a larger impact because you have a larger pool of donors, a higher percentage return on renewal, and loyalty in a down economy. ROI helps calculate the break-even point and is best if the charity has concerns over cash flow. Next, NCDC offers timely guidance on interpreting attrition rates, offering a case study that sheds light on decision-making based on the interplay of ROI and LTV considerations. These considerations always involve questions of organizational goals and strategy: What do you really want this particular mailing to do, and how does this fit into our goals as an organization? As the resource points out, even with all of the advances in technology available to gather and record data, there will always be a subjective element to analysis and decision making: “Interpreting statistics is both an art and a science.” Both ROI and LTV play a role in strategic direct mail, and having test objectives in place prior to mailing is crucial. This ensures that the data gathered will actually be helpful. No single formula for decision making is “one size fits all,” however, since each organization’s goals provide the baseline against which such decisions are made. You can download the NCDC resource here. For help with developing — and analyzing — your next direct mail campaign, contact LDMI today. [LDMI is a Corporate Partner of NCDC.]    
Unless prompted on the donation page, the majority of online donors probably never realize that 100 percent of their gift isn’t going to their favored charity. While the entire amount donated is still tax deductible, a small percentage usually pays fees charged to the nonprofit by the provider of the online fundraising platform. Read more...
The explosion of digital marketing and communications in the past decade has many nonprofits wondering if direct mail will still be an effective means of soliciting responses from the next generation of Americans that are already beginning to take the reins of leadership in business and civil society, the Millennials. Millennials — the generation born between the early 1980s and early 2000s — are unlike previous generations in numerous respects, and a lot of time has been spent studying their habits and how to best market to them. “Will they respond to direct mail?” is a big question. As a Millennial (on the upper end), I can say that I’ve always been interested in getting the mail from my mailbox as soon as I get home to see what was delivered that day. And it appears a large percentage of Millennials are like me in that regard. USPS Delivers recently published an article pulling from a number of studies examining the “myths and truth” of Millennials and direct mail. Among the findings was that 84% of millennials look through their mail on a regular basis, and 87% of millennials like receiving direct mail. US Presort put together a great infographic (below) summarizing the article. While nonprofits should absolutely invest in online services, direct mail will continue to be an extremely important part of any fundraising or marketing campaign far into the foreseeable future. And instead of thinking the choice is between one or the other, bolstering your nonprofit’s integrated fundraising across multiple channels should be a top priority.
For the past 30 years, Lawrence Direct Marketing, Inc. (LDMI) has worked closely with Catholic nonprofits to raise millions of dollars in support of their charitable missions. Catholic fundraising is a specialty of ours, which is why LDMI is a proud member of the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC). Read more...

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