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How Effective Is Your Donor Communication?

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Valuable insights from The Donor Mindset Study, a series of research reports about American charitable donors

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The average American charitable donor reports receiving about eight mailings and 10 emails from nonprofit organizations in a typical week. A majority of these communications come from organizations they don’t financially support.

Consumer insights company Grey Matter Research and research panel Opinions4Good (Op4G) partnered on The Donor Mindset Study, a series of research reports about American charitable donors. The latest in the series, The Donor Mindset Study VII: Cutting through the Noise, explores how much mail and email donors report receiving from charities, as well as what proportion they actually read (all or in part).

The weekly averages, as reported by donors, look like this:

· 3.6 pieces of mail from organizations they financially support
· 4.2 pieces of mail from organizations they do not financially support
· 4.2 emails from organizations they financially support
· 5.7 emails from organizations they do not financially support

That’s a total of 17.7 messages from charities each week; 920 per year, or 2.5 every day just between mail and email (not including social media, text, advertising or other forms of communication).

On average, donors estimate that 54 percent of the mail and 58 percent of the e-mails they receive from charities come from organizations they don’t support (commonly referred to as “prospecting”).

Who gets the most communication from charities?

· People who identify with a religious group report receiving 24 percent more than atheists, agnostics and those who have no religious identification.
· Men report receiving 26 percent more than women.
· Higher-income households ($70,000+) report receiving 30 percent more than lower-income households.
· Larger donors ($500+ given in the past 12 months) report receiving 37 percent more than others.
· Political liberals report receiving 38 percent more than conservatives.
· Donors under age 50 report receiving a whopping 77 percent more than older donors.

The study also asked donors to estimate how many mail and email messages from charities they read each week, not necessarily the whole thing, but at least part. On average, about 78 percent of what they receive from charities they financially support gets at least a little attention, along with about 58 percent of prospecting communications.

Few donors discard everything they get without reading it—only 7 percent do this with all the mail they receive from the organizations they support, and 25 percent do this with all the prospecting mail they get. The numbers for email are strikingly similar (of course, they don’t take into consideration the emails donors never see because they’re caught in spam filters or sent to e-mail addresses donors rarely or never check).

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