Anticipating Direct Mail Success Through Doubling Day

by Mark Dreistadt | Jul 28, 2023 | Consulting, Fundraising

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a crystal ball to predict the success of your direct mail campaign before it even finishes? 

We understand the challenge … If your organization is like most, you continue to receive donations from your fundraising appeals for months after they have been sent. Receiving donations in November from the previous year’s end-of-year mailing is really not unusual.

The reasons why donors retain business reply envelopes for extended periods remain a mystery. However, it is a common occurrence.

But here’s the good news: you can get an idea of your campaign’s success before every dollar comes in. Using Doubling Day can offer valuable insights.

Doubling Day represents the point in the life cycle of a direct-mail appeal when approximately half of the expected responses have been received. Doubling Day can be calculated based on the total number of responses received or the total amount of money collected (although these two metrics may result in different doubling days).

For instance, let’s take a scenario where 5,000 mail pieces are sent out, and 125 replies are received by doubling day. Doubling this number suggests a projected total of 250 responses, equaling a five percent response rate.

The timing of Doubling Day varies based on the class of mail used for the mailing envelope and reply envelope. To determine your doubling day accurately, it is crucial to conduct several direct mail campaigns targeting the same audience during the same time of year.

On average, most nonprofits typically receive half of their responses on the eighteenth day after dropping their campaign into the mail when using bulk rate mail. Of course, results may vary from organization to organization.

Understanding your Doubling Day is critical to optimizing your fundraising revenue.

Doubling Day is the traditional tool that nonprofits use to predict the success of their direct mail fundraising campaigns while they are in the mail. This provides nonprofit organizations that rely on mail-based donations with a clever strategy: by timing each fundraising appeal to coincide with the decline of the previous one, they can ensure a steady stream of mailings throughout the year. By knowing your doubling day, you can plan your appeals strategically, mailing as many as possible without overwhelming your generous donors or diluting the response rate.

Doubling Day is useful only if it’s consistent. There are several factors that can throw off the timing of your Doubling Day.

In the United States, direct mail delays have become increasingly prevalent. Every mail class has been subject to longer delivery times, so it is harder to have consistent data.

The class of mail you choose also plays a role. Naturally, if you opt for first-class postage on your mailing and business reply envelopes, your Doubling Day will arrive sooner than if you use bulk mail class with no postage on your reply envelope.

If you are using Doubling Day to measure the amount of money raised instead of the number of responses received, substantial single gifts in previous campaigns will skew your doubling day, making it appear to arrive sooner than it does. Remove those large gifts from your calculation to arrive at a more accurate Doubling Day.

Lastly, remember the influence the time of year may have on Doubling Day. For example, Christmas appeals are often sent in November, but people often hold onto the package until the end of December before responding. So, in that case, expect your Doubling Day to align with the previous year’s Christmas appeal rather than the one from the previous month.

In conclusion, Doubling Day is a fantastic tool that can help nonprofit organizations, like yours, predict the success of direct mail fundraising campaigns while they are still in progress.

Embracing a professional and data-driven approach to Doubling Day calculations empowers you to make strategic choices and maximize the impact of your fundraising efforts.

While there is no crystal ball, Doubling Day can be a helpful predictor of success.

If you want to optimize the effectiveness of your direct mail and digital communication, Infinity Concepts is here to help. Contact DARRELL LAW, our Chief Growth Officer at darrell@infinityconcepts.com or call us today at 724.733.1200.

Mark Dreistadt

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