Is the era of direct mail fundraising about to begin?

As you may know, I’m traveling this week. This guest post comes from Rob Koenig, who has been helping nonprofits get the  most from their direct mail investments for several years now. Thanks Rob for being a part of my blog!

Here is a multiple choice question for you:

The era of direct mail fundraising is about to _________?

A.)   end

B.)    begin

C.)    I don’t know.  It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.

The correct answer of course, is C! But if that was not a choice, the right answer is probably B. Here’s why:

Direct mail has traditionally been the lifeblood for many non-profits. But let’s face it; people just communicate differently now – “no one sends letters.” And the next generation might not even talk on the phone! Your program’s social media stats and online giving trends are probably on the rise and your direct mail results are likely decreasing year over year. It’s really starting to look like social media will soon be the key direct fundraising channel in the future.

Not so fast.

We’ve heard for years about the giant cultural shift that will occur as the Baby Boom Generation ages.  And it’s an important shift in fundraising as well. That’s because, with retirement, Baby Boomers are entering their prime charitable giving years. And how do they want to be communicated with? Well, the Baby Boomers have demonstrated there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But we do know they’re very accustomed to responding to direct mail offers.

So it’s best that we be prepared to include ALL of the channels THEY like in our fundraising programs.

Think about it. If you are currently in your 50’s, 40’s or even 30’s and you want to continue in the fundraising profession, then the Baby Boom demographic will soon be your most important audience segment and will remain so for the rest of your career. The oldest Baby Boomers turned 65 last year. And 10,000 of them will turn 65 every day for the next 18 years.

They’re the largest and wealthiest generation our country has ever seen. And they grew up writing and reading letters sent through the mail.

So the next time you see a fundraising meeting agenda that spends more time strategizing around social media outreach than all other channels combined, politely remind your fellow fundraisers not to forget that the era of direct mail fundraising is about to begin.

What are your thoughts?

Rob Koenig has worked in direct response fundraising for over 10 years and enjoys connecting generous people to great causes.  Rob lives in Louisville, KY with his wife Leslie and faithful dog Norman. 

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