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Brand damage cost to charities of mailing deceased is calculated for first time

Data specialists Wilmington Millennium Mortascreen have calculated a figure for the cost to a charity in terms of brand damage for each time they send a mailing to someone who has died.

How much does it cost a charity to send a fundraising or other mailing to someone who has recently died? There is the cost of the wasted printing and postage of course. But what about the impact on that charity’s reputation amongst relatives and friends who receive the unwanted mailing?

According to Wilmington Millennium Mortascreen, that cost to a charity’s brand is £1.64 per mailing to a deceased person.


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Increased mortality rate

The challenge of avoiding this cost is only going to increase, given that the UK’s mortality rate has increased by 6%.
Mortascreen’s research found that 66% of consumers would said that they would boycott a charity that sent direct mail to a loved one that was deceased.

Charities lose £1.64 in brand damage every time they mail the deceased - says Mortascreen
Charities lose £1.64 in brand damage every time they mail the deceased – says Mortascreen

“5% of all direct mail sent to the deceased”

The nationally representative survey found that:

This equates to 193.2 million of mistargeted direct mail, or 5% of all direct mail sent (approximately 3.6 billion pieces per year)! (This figure is calculated in terms of the number of people that have received direct mail addressed to the deceased multiplied by the average amount of deceased mail received).

Mortascreen’s calculations of brand damage are based only on the period of time that the direct mail is sent to the deceased. Of course, they could be significantly higher if the person continued to boycott the charity in the future.

Keep donor data as up-to-date as possible

Karen Pritchard, Product Director of Mortascreen, said:

“2016 has seen the highest rate of deaths in memory and as a result donor databases are decaying more quickly than usual. With an expected 33,000 extra deaths this year charities can ill afford to ignore this research.

“The fact that two thirds of donors would blacklist them if they mailed someone who had passed away is significant. Consumers are becoming increasingly empowered and will vote with their feet by closing their wallets.

“As an industry we have always understood that mailing the deceased causes brand damage, however this research, for the first time, serves to emphasize the scale of the problem. Whilst the headline figure is unrealised potential revenue, in absolute terms the cost of producing these mail packs should serve as momentum to keep donor data as up-to-date as possible.”

Main image: family at funeral by Kzenon at Shutterstock.com