Charity fundraising through direct mail has declined by almost a third as the sector invests more in digital recruitment, a report has revealed.
Qbase, which published the research, also found that retention rates through direct mail were lower than other channels at 42 per cent.
And for the first time, lapsing supporters are outweighing new supporters at a rate of five to three.
Lapsing donors are defined as those who have donated between 12 and 24 months ago, while new supporters have made a donation in the last 12 months.
The report also found that digital recruitment proved the most effective channel for securing emails as a source of contact permission, while face-to-face recruitment and cold mail accounted for around two in five email addresses collected.
Around half (47 per cent) of contacts listed on charity databases have never donated, it added.
Matt Porter, Qbase’s 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.
“The report revealed a number of practical ways charities can communicate with their supporters in the changing, digitally focused landscape. It also highlighted the most effective channels available not only for recruitment, but also in securing positive lifetime value.”
However, Mr Porter warned that charities should be wary of investing too many resources into digital, as new data protection rules due to be introduced in May 2018 will change the way charities can collect data.
“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.”