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Regular givers on the rise but recruitment via direct mail declining, report shows

Regular givers on the rise but recruitment via direct mail declining, report shows

Recruitment to regular giving has increased over the last three years with 24% of supporters regular givers in 2016 compared to 17% in 2013, a report from Qbase has found, but fewer people are recruited via direct mail with face to face most successful and digital recruitment a growing trend.

The Qbase Context Report, which helps organisations understand how their charity is performing by using sector KPIs to provide benchmarking insight, reveals that charity supporter recruitment through direct mail declined to 30% in 2016, compared to 46% in 2013, while 46% of regular givers in 2016 were recruited via face to face. However, the report shows a decrease in focus on using face-to-face, cold mail and telemarketing channels since 2015, with digital recruitment expected to continue to be a growing trend into 2018.

Digital channels score the best first donation values, at £36, but are one of the worst for retention. Inserts however provide one of the most effective channels for positive lifetime value with a first recruitment value of £25, and are also the best channel for supporter retention with almost 50% going on to give again.

However, the report also showed that the majority of average charity databases consist of supporters who have never donated (47%), those who have lapsed (34%) and those lapsing (5%), and highlighted an emerging trend of numbers of lapsing supporters outweighing new supporters (5% vs. 3% of individuals on a database).

Qbase’s Insight team performed data collection and benchmarking analysis over the course of 2016 for the report, which explores key products within fundraising and individual giving, from raffle and regular giving, to direct mail appeals. Email data, lottery and paid membership KPIs and a review of 2016 direct mail Christmas cash campaign appeals are also included.

Key findings:

How active is a charity database?

  • 47% no donation, 34% lapsed, 11% active, 5% lapsing, 3% new 

How can charities communicate with supporters?

Database broken down by marketable permissions and contact information available across key communication channels

  • Post – approximately 70%
  • Telephone – approximately 30%
  • Email – approximately 28%
  • SMS – approximately 20%

qbase communications channels













Most successful channels for securing email source of contact permission

  • The majority of supporters were recruited with email source of permission through digital means (41%), followed by face-face (22%), cold mail (18%), door drop (6%), inserts (5%), telephone (3%), press (3%), DRTV (2%)

Recruitment versus product offering (2013-2016)

  • Recruitment through DM programmes has declined from 46% in 2013 to 30% in 2016
  • Recruitment to regular giving has increased from 17%-24%
  • Recruitment to raffle has increased from 12%-21%
  • Recruitment to lottery decreased from 13%-5%
  • Recruitment to paid membership increased from 12%-20%

Qbase recruitment products













Best product for retention

  • Regular giving is the best product for securing second donation at almost 90%, followed by lottery (80%), paid memberships (75%), raffle (58%), and direct mail cash (42%). The lower rate of the latter two are due to the frequency of asks and draws
  • This highlights that supporters generally prefer to stay on the product offer they started on rather than convert

DM cash recruitment

  • Digital channels outperform others for first donation values at £36
  • However they are one of the worst for retention with only 20% going on to donate again
  • Inserts provide one of the most effective channels for positive LTV with first recruitment value at £25, and also the best channel for supporter retention with almost 50% going on to give again.
  • DRTV proved mid-range for value but retention wise is more effective at moving supporters onto another relationship

Regular giving recruitment

  • Face-to-face is most successful at recruiting with 46% of these supporters recruited this way, followed by cold mail (18%)
  • However, focus from face-to-face, cold mail and telemarketing channels has decreased since 2015, meaning digital recruitment will continue to be a growing trend into 2018

qbase regular giving recruitment













Direct mail to regular giving conversion

  • 60% of supporters who have been successfully converted to regular giving via telephone conversions have done this in their first 60 days, with 90% doing this in 180 days
  • There is a steady trend upwards in direct mail conversion indicating that direct mail welcome journeys are working to nurture supporters onto regular gifting


  • Due to a strategic shift by many charities to focus more on mailing supporters, raffle response rates suffered a huge drop, almost halving in 2016, indicating a need for charities to revisit their raffle strategy to increase response rates, ROI, raffle and overall charity retention

Matt Porter, Qbase Business Insight Solutions Consultant said:

‘’It’s never been more important for the sector to focus on keeping supporters ‘active’, particularly given the fact that, on average supporters are lapsing at a higher percentage than new ones coming onto the database.

‘‘With marketable permissions set to be impacted by GDPR, it’s critical that charities are working now to collect supporter preferences. Postal methods remain a huge channel of opportunity to market to supporters. However, charities have increased investment across digital communication channels such as email and social media platforms in recent years and this channel is increasingly being used as a method of engaging with supporters. It will be interesting to see how this develops in next year’s Context report.”

Recruitment for the 2018 project will begin in January 2018. The project is completely anonymised with Qbase receiving no personal identifiers or names and addresses, and gives participating charities a fully customised report identifying areas of opportunity in which to develop new product offerings. Charities interested in possible involvement are invited to contact the Qbase team at


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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