2009 – A Wild Year For Direct Marketing

2009 started out with a continuation and amplification of the problems that began in late 2008.

Shall we list them?
1) US and European real estate bubbles which triggered…
2) Bank collapses which brought about…
3) Stock and bond market crashes that lead to…
4) Massive government intervention in the banks and markets which caused…
5) A serious threat of deflation causing companies to lay off staff, meaning…
6) People have less money and are afraid for their economic future, therefore…
7) They give less to charity, save more and spend less

And as if that were not enough, Bernie Madoff confessed to the Mother of all Ponzi Schemes which bankrupted several Jewish private foundations and placed many well-known national Jewish organizations into deep financial crisis.

 All-in-all, it’s been a tough year.
Many Jewish organizations reacted by pulling back: cutting staff, programming and of course, fundraising budgets. Some of that was justified while their financial situations were in flux.
Many others went into panic mode, downsizing in a way that hurt their clients, their staff and their fundraising efforts. Some of the bigger mailers lost literally tens of thousands of donors from their active donor files as they stayed out of the mail and eliminated acquisition mailings.
All doom and gloom.
But things started to look up by mid-year.
There was a new administration in Washington, the capital markets began to stabilize, and before the High Holidays, Jewish organizations decided that they needed to test the waters again and bring new supporters on board during the historically best mailing cycle of the Jewish year.
And then, great news: the results were better than many had predicted. So we are seeing a good number of end-of-year/Hanukah mailings and up uptick in mailing plans for 2010.
List owners suffered, as did list managers, in 2009. Many were asked to make price concessions for mailers, while many mailers adopted a policy of using only exchanges and foregoing list rental entirely. That cut deeply into list rental revenue for 2009, but again we are looking at a return to higher levels of rentals in 2009.
On a personal level, 2009 started with Beersheva (where our offices are located) and much of the northern Negev under rocket bombardment from Gaza during the Gaza War. I’m proud to report that Negev Direct Marketing was open for business every working day during this time. The dedication of our staff and our families to our clients was really something to see and be proud of.
Looking forward, we predict a stabilized general economic situation in the United States, although unemployment will remain high for the balance of the year. People are donating again, and are looking for lean, mean, effective organizations to give their money to.
If you have not streamlined your mail or email campaigns to meet these realities, now is the time to do so.
We would like to hear from our readers about their experiences over the past year and how they view direct marketing and fundraising faring in 2010.