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The 5 Fundraising Direct Mail Trends in 2011

by Ethan Boldt December 15, 2011
Recently, I wrote an article about the "7 Big Trends for Direct Mail in 2011" and a number of fundraisers asked about trends specific to that industry. It's a question I was happy to tackle, with the aid of our comprehensive database of direct mail, the Who's Mailing What! Archive, which includes the tracking of 14 different types of fundraising mail (social action, culture, environment, health/handicapped, international relief, minority groups, sports/olympics, politics, religion, animals/wildlife, local relief, lobbying efforts, children and education).

Looking at direct mail statistics until the end of August, here's what we've seen so far in 2011 as compared to all of 2010.

1. Slight Uptick in Controls in 2011
A control is a piece of mail that we've seen before in the Archive (for at least a year), and usually it's an indication of mail that works for certain nonprofit. And fundraisers are an industry that definitely invests more heavily in their donor acquisition packages and are more prone to stay with packages that are faring well in the mailstream.

Therefore, it's no surprise that the rate of controls is up in 2011, by 1.8 percent to be precise. Now, 45 percent of all fundraising mail is a control, so still over half of all efforts are brand spanking new. But both of those percentages are small potatoes compared to the overall mailstream, in which only 25 percent of all mail pieces are controls.

2. 14 Percent Increase in Premiums!
Premium offers continue to tug on anyone's heart strings, and they tend to make donors more likely to open their wallet in an economic downturn. Accordingly, 2011 saw a 14 percent increase in premiums compared to 2010, and now 18 percent of all fundraising mail includes a premium.

A similar trend was seen in the overall mailstream, as 1 in every 5 mail pieces had a premium, but that was a small increase (7 percent) compared to the fundraising sector.

3. Personalization & VDP Hit Record Levels
Again, in step with the overall direct mail trends, the use of variable data printing (VDP) and personalization hit the highest point at any time during fundraising's past. Now, 60.3 percent of all fundraising mail is personalized in some way, either with copy or imagery. That's a stunning figure, and a full 8 percent more than 2010 that already had set the high mark.
 
 
 

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