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Public TV direct-mail drives on upswing

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Public television stations have reversed their decline in acquiring new donors through direct-mail campaigns, new research shows.

Based on data from over 700 campaigns mailing 34 million pieces for 73 stations from 2005 through 2009, DMW Direct Fundraising found stations in 2009 raised $295.21 per thousand pieces mailed, up 16.3 percent from 2008, with an average gift of $42.10, up from $41.64.

Over the five-year period, stations averaged $260.21 per thousand, with an average gift of $40.61, with performance bottoming out in 2006 with $236.58 per thousand and an average gift of $39.80.

The real performance rate actually may have been higher, the group says, because the data include only those donors who responded to mail appeals and not those who went directly online to give.

“Stations that maintained a consistent program through the period largely saw stability in performance over the past two years, while stations that cut their programs fared less well as a group, but did seen an increase last year,” Tom Hurley, president of DMW Direct Fundraising, says in a statement.

“Each station is unique, but the data suggest that an overall four-year downward trend has clearly now turned upward,” he says.

The group says other studies indicate direct-mail is the channel that generates public television’s most loyal donors, based on overall retention rate.

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