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New Data Axle Study: To Reach Donors, Nonprofits Must Consider Age, Gender, and Politics When Planning Channel Mix

Survey of more than 1,200 donors shows email campaigns twice as likely to earn donations from Democrats as from Republicans

The direct mail fundraising channel continues to be a highly effective means of driving charitable donations, even among donors who complete their gift online. A new Data Axle study titled The New Best Practices for Connecting with Today’s Charitable Donors found that 29% of donors who make gifts through an organization’s website do so after being prompted by a communication in another channel. When it comes to making a donation, direct mail continues to reign supreme with 45% of donors aged over 60, 34% of those aged 45-60, 26% of 30–44-year-olds, and 20% of 18–29-year-olds using the channel to give to nonprofits. In terms of how charitable organizations should reach out to donors, email shines with 48% of donors across generations identifying it as their preferred channel. To achieve optimal results, direct mail must be part of a coordinated multichannel effort, informed by donor preferences.

In order to understand these trends in depth, Data Axle surveyed more than 1,200 Americans who had donated to a charity in the last 6 months. The results are now available in a white paper that readers may download here.

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“This study puts numbers to the changes digital media has wrought on fundraising channels in recent years,” said Data Axle Nonprofit Solutions President Stephanie Ceruolo. “Today’s donors want to give on their terms—and those terms are more varied than ever. As a result, nonprofits can’t afford to choose one or two channels. They need to get smarter and more data-driven when building their donor acquisition and fundraising initiatives, and leverage the full spectrum of channels according to the preference of each individual.”

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Highlights of Data Axle’s study include:

● Although only 2% of younger donors say they want to be contacted via phone, 20% of donors aged 18-29 and 18% aged 30-44 say they donate in response to a phone call from a nonprofit.
● Nearly half (48%) of respondents stated email is their communication channel of preference. Direct mail was the second most preferred channel at 21%, followed by social media (17%), text messaging (8%) and phone calls (2%).
● Men are more likely to respond to a phone call than women (14% vs. 9%), and less likely to click on an email campaign to donate (18% vs. 22%).
● Donors who support Republican candidates greatly favor donating via direct mail at 49%, vs. 31% of Democratic-leaning donors. Democratic donors are more likely to give to nonprofits via unprompted visits to a charity’s website or by clicking on an email campaign (41% and 30%, respectively) compared to Republican donors (24% and 15%, respectively).

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“Some of the newer nonprofits may lean too heavily on digital media, while older ones may avoid digital channels entirely,” said Data Axle Chairman and CEO Michael Iaccarino. “This survey shows the importance of using every channel in order to reach donors in the most effective way, informed by their demographic and psychographic attributes. We’re glad to share these results and help nonprofits innovate their donor acquisition and engagement strategies to achieve their fundraising goals.”

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