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Feb 2, 2015

It was a Good Fall

a good fallThis time of year, direct response analyst dig through an avalanche of fall results from our clients to see what worked, analyze what failed and forecast the rest of the fiscal year.

Though most of the fall campaigns started slow, they picked up pace in late November and blew it out in December. For the first time in quite a few years, my empirically packed Powerpoint presentations will be met with client cheers and goodwill: Everyone’s results are up over last year.

And that’s a relief.

The much maligned channel of direct mail acquisition held its own this past fall. And though they aren’t “throw-back” results of the 1990s, neither were they worse than last year.

Online revenue continued to grow, though I have noticed that the pace of its growth is more modest this year. In 2008 I predicted that online revenue would surpass direct mail revenue in 2018 for the first time. It looks like I am a year closer to being wrong about that. Roughly, in the data I’m looking at, I’m seeing that online revenue is about 10-30% of direct mail revenue. Though improving, we still have a long way to go.

One trend I am happy to report is the stabilization of active donor counts. After a steady decline in active donor counts that started in 2008, I’m seeing counts the same or above last year. Whew!

Two trends that I see continuing – which are in fact related – are the increase in average gift size and the decline in retention. The decline in retention is particularly pronounced in second year from new donors, and of low value donors. When donors with smaller gifts aren’t retained, the proportion of donors giving larger gifts increases, which helps to drive up the average gift size.

Look forward to seeing you all and sharing the good news.

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