Mail call is a favorite part of our day here at the Mackinac Center.

Fan mail, angry mail, policy mail, free-market magazines and, of course, your contributions of support, are one of our windows to the world.

But “mail call” now is also something we do online.

As America spends more time on laptops, tablets and smartphones, the Mackinac Center is also spending more time learning how to reach people online and through social media.

We can’t carry out our mission — and fulfill our fiscal responsibility to supporters like you  — without exploring promising ways to secure new friends and donors.

The Blackbaud Index is a rolling snapshot of charitable giving from year to year. In a recent report, it noted that total charitable giving was up by 1.7 percent in March of 2015 compared with the previous year among the 3,700 organizations it tracks.

But online giving was up by 9.9 percent.

That’s a trend we’re seeing here at the Mackinac Center, too. Our online giving in the first quarter of this year increased by 138 percent over the first quarter of 2014.

Part of that increase comes from current supporters who make gifts online, but 27 percent of the increase was in first-time support.

What’s driving this increase?

One reason is that most people are spending more time online.

Another reason is that the Mackinac Center is investing time and attention in our websites, our email program and our social media presence, and the results are telling.

Traffic at our Michigan Capitol Confidential news site, michigancapitolconfidential.com, is up by 86 percent over last year. Traffic at our home page, mackinac.org, is up by 25 percent.

As just one example, we had more than 60,000 visits at our Web pages explaining the Proposal 1 ballot issue in May, including about 9,800 visits on the day of the vote.

More than ever, we are reaching out to our online visitors and inviting them to sign up for our daily or weekly email reports. We’re testing which website design keeps people on our pages longer, how we can meet people through Google advertising, and even the best time of day to send out an email.

Every test result helps us improve our effectiveness the next time.

Please join us at our websites, and invite your friends to connect with us as well. You can sign up for as much or as little email as you like, and you also can download our new smartphone app, VoteSpotter, which helps you remind your elected officials that they work for you and not vice versa.

Your investment in the Mackinac Center fuels all of this outreach. Thank you for helping grow the audience of believers and supporters of free markets and limited government. If you have insight or feedback on our online efforts, then I hope you will get in touch with me at 989-631-0900 or JimWalker@Mackinac.org. I would enjoy meeting with you.