We Are All Connected

93074711_0e8c8129b1_mLast week I attended the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation Conference in New York, and my fundamental takeaway from the conference is that the “silos” of development are officially gone.

No longer are we talking about a direct marketing program in opposition to a major gifts program. No longer should we be analyzing budget line items as isolated endeavors.

Why? Because our donors have never seen the silos! And we have finally learned that to be donor-centric means that we need to see our relationships with our donors as they see it—organization wide.

One thing I love about attending sessions with direct marketers: statistics. Relying on the statistics from our direct marketing colleagues, we can learn much about the impact of our decisions and our marketing efforts throughout the donor life-cycle.

No data is more telling than that shared by representatives of American Cancer Society and theirconsultant, Merkle. In describing the program-wide reverberations of halting their direct mail acquisition program for 18 months, they estimated a loss of approximately 378,000 new donors, based on performance of 2012 acquisition. Extrapolating the performance of donors acquired through the direct mail program, they gave the following statistics:

  • $29.5 million was lost over 5 years in the renewal program
  • $8 million per year was lost from participants in Relay for Life who join through direct mail acquisition
  • $51 million in planned gifts is contributed by direct mail donors. The full extent of the loss of these ultimate gifts from donors not acquired through these 18 months is not known, but it is likely to be tremendous.

So, the next time your organization’s leadership suggests cutting the direct mail acquisition budget, remember that those donors are the beginning of the pipeline leading to significant revenue in other departments.

Each of us has a role to play in the long-term relationships with our donors, but those roles are not distinctly separate in silos. Rather, they are intricately related and interdependent.

– Meg Roberts, CFRE

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