Direct Mail Best For Charity Awareness

Charity begins with a direct mail solicitation, according to findings from Vertis regarding contributions. The marketing firm found that more than half (59 percent) of the 2,000 American adults that were surveyed during spring 2003 were most likely to donate time, money, food, clothing, or other contributions to organizations that contacted them through direct mail, and 53 percent confirmed that they read fundraising and non-profit direct mail.

The study found that personalization was the most important factor when contributors determine which charity or fundraising direct mail they open at 62 percent, followed by timing at 59 percent. Making lesser impacts were free gift or token (32 percent), special offer (31 percent) and dated material (30 percent).

Thérèse Mulvey, vice president marketing research at Vertis, said that roughly two-thirds of the respondents were online, and the study revealed little difference in the contribution habits of adults with home Internet access compared to the total number of survey participants. However, there was one significant exception – Internet users were more aware of organizations that had a Web presence.


From which of the following do you receive
information on organizations to contribute to…?
Type of solicitation Total Adults Internet Users
Direct mail 59% 59%
Fundraiser 45% 48%
Word of mouth 41% 41%
Church 40% 39%
Telemarketer 21% 19%
Telethon 20% 18%
Internet 16% 21%
Source: Direct Marketing 2003

Overall, Americans are a generous bunch, with 86 percent of the respondents indicating that they donated money to charities or non-profit organizations in 2003. Donations under $500 have increased by 7 percent since 2001, while donations over $500 have decreased by 10 percent.


Approximately how much have you contributed
to charities and non-profit organizations
in the last year? (not including local church)
Amount Total Adults Internet Users
None 14% 11%
Under $100 37% 35%
$100-$249 22% 22%
$250-$499 12% 13%
$500-$999 7% 9%
$1000-$5000 6% 7%
Over $5000 1% 1%
Source: Direct Marketing 2003

Health organizations continue to garner the most contributions, hovering just over 50 percent in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Not surprisingly, donations to safety/disaster relief spiked in 2002, rising to 44 percent over the previous year’s 28 percent, and dropping back down to 37 percent in 2003. Religious organizations, not including local churches, saw the biggest decline in 2003, dropping from 50 percent in 2002 to 39 percent.


Which of the following types of organizations
do you contribute to…?
Amount Total Adults Internet Users
Health 52% 53%
Food/hunger 40% 42%
Community services 40% 42%
Children’s services 39% 40%
Religious 39% 39%
Safety/disaster relief 37% 37%
Homeless/shelter 36% 36%
Education 27% 29%
Animals 22% 23%
Social services 15% 14%
Political 14% 15%
Source: Direct Marketing 2003

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