In the 25 years that I have been fundraising, change has never come faster than now. Each year, nonprofits and their agencies contend with ever-increasing communications complexity, expanded competition, and ongoing budget challenges. Yet some nonprofits are faring far better than others. These successful organizations understand digital fundraising – but not in the way you may think.

When most people hear “digital fundraising,” they think of social, mobile, search, retargeting, etc. While all of these channels are important and growing, there is arguably an even more important digital channel: data-driven direct mail, supported by digital printing. In fact, three-quarters of individual donation revenue still comes from direct mail.

So why is digital printing so important in 2017?

  1. It’s true one-to-one marketing

State-of-the-art digital printing allows virtually every aspect of every piece of mail to be personalized. For example, a charity that supports children’s causes can efficiently send mail that includes a picture of the specific child each donor is supporting.

  1. Speed-to-market

If time is money, digital printing is extremely valuable. Set-up times are quicker, and no plate creation or plate changes are required. Depending on the complexity of your package, you might save 6 days or more.

  1. Cost savings

In the past, cost was one of the biggest barriers to deploying true one-to-one marketing. The beauty of digital printing technology is that it utilizes computer images to print, rather than running under plates. This means that there are no version charges, no plate changes, and no extra printed material. Every piece is printed and personalized at the same time — all of which leads to cost savings.

In 2017, donors have newfound expectations. They expect to be addressed and acknowledged more personally. By leveraging cutting-edge targeting and modeling strategies, combined with state-of-the-art digital print technology, nonprofits can achieve this level of personalization with greater efficiency and effectiveness at scale. The financial impact and appreciation that donors accrue to nonprofits as a result, make digital printing arguably the most important digital means of communication.

Mark Schulhof is Chief Executive Officer of Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. Contact us at Answers@Innovairre.com, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.