Guest Post: 99% failure in direct mail fundraising? 03/13/2021 "Need to Know" for Jewish non-profits, Fundraising Strategy
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When I first realized that being a fundraiser meant doing a lot more than writing fundraising copy, I started paying close attention to response data.

One day, I thought I’d uncovered a major oversight in the way we looked at direct-mail response rates.

As you know, with new donor direct-mail acquisition efforts, it’s often a hurdle to get more than 1% response. Some organizations can’t ever get that high, while others routinely top it. But 1% is pretty normal. (If you got 1% response to an email, you’d think a miracle had happened.)

But 1% success is a 99% failure rate, isn’t it?

I told everyone who would listen.

This is a fundamentally screwed-up reality! We tolerate 99% failure!

My 99% comment was a good way to get attention, but it was pretty half-baked.

One percent is what happens when you’re sending unsolicited postal mail to people who may or may not know who you are, and have not donated to you.

If you think about it, 1% is pretty amazing. You’re writing to people out of the blue. They’re probably getting a handful of other solicitations at the same time. Many of them look at your fundraising the way a first-grade teacher looks at a wad of gum — and they don’t trust you.

Cripes! It’s amazing as many as 1% respond!

Also, there’s evidence that direct-mail response is more of a process than an event. Studies show that most new donors who come on board via direct mail got mail from the organization five to six times before they responded.

That 99% non-response still bothers me. But I can’t call it a failure.

Thank you for being a guest poster on the blog Jeff Brooks! You can find and follow Jeff here: