This is the first in a series of posts on what I believe will be the biggest changes affecting the fundraising sector.
I mentioned to a fundraising consultant that I found it funny that my one and a half year old son played with a Postman Pat van, because I would probably have difficulties explaining what a postman does when my son gets older. The consultant looked at me oddly, and didn’t get my story. When telling him that I haven’t received a letter in my mailbox in over a year, he didn’t believe me.
That consultant lives in London. I live in Aarhus, Denmark. My guess is that this is why he didn’t get my story. I’m not a outlier in Denmark. Danes only send 70% of the post that they did in 1999. In the first quarter of 2017 alone the volume dropped 23%. Last time I received a letter from a company, I called them and complained. And it wasn’t because it was an invoice. It was because I find letters annoying, and a waste of resources.
Digitalisation in Denmark has been more rapid than anywhere else in the world. The biggest thing is how rapidly the government has digitalised. At the end of 2014 it was made obligatory for all Danes to have a digital mailbox. No letters would be sent from the government any longer. You have to apply for exemption (and they are not handed out generously) and no one is exempt by default.
Even among digitalised countries Denmark stands out. Swedes send five times as many letters as Danes [source in Danish], yet have only double the population. The rest of the world’s national postal services are sending delegations to Denmark to look at what they see as a dystopian future. We have just four remaining post offices left in the whole country (but plenty of package pick-up points at kiosks and supermarkets for our online shopping sprees).
Fewer letters, higher cost
So, how does this impact fundraising? First of all, sending a letter has increased in cost. The cost of sending a letter in Denmark has increased by 324.5% between 2007 and 2016. A Danish letter cost on average 359% more to send – source in German as in the UK. That is a cost that your direct mail campaigns will suffer from.
It also means email has become a better tool. As everyone is used to receiving important information over email, the channel increases in importance. The reach also increases, because the age group of 70+ have actually received training in using the internet and accessing their email.
When Postman Pat becomes a rarity – and this will happen – it will be a good thing. It will save resources for everyone. You just have to adapt, but luckily you have time to prepare.
So, make the most of the warning, strengthen your digital departments, and make your fundraising future proof.
Main image: Letterbox Lips for Postman Pat by Tim Green on Flickr.com
Jesper Juul Jensen is CEO at BetterNow.org, which provides charities with white label online fundraising solutions for community, in-memory and event fundraising. At the core of BetterNow is a vision is to make the world more generous by empowering anyone to make a difference by giving charities the best and most affordable digital fundraising toolset possible.
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