Identifying Direct Mail Acquisition List Sources

How do you find those new donors to mail your direct mail package?

Last week’s blog highlighted the importance of investing in acquisition. Once your Executive Director or Board has approved your acquisition budget and you’ve set your goals, how do you find those new donors to mail your direct mail package?

There are several sources for building your list of donor prospects:

1.     List Exchanges – often, like-minded organizations will come to an agreement to make their donor lists available to each other for a one-time exchange. Most times this exchange is at no-cost to the organizations or a very minimal data handling fee.

2.     List Rentals – some nonprofit organizations, magazines, catalogs or other consumer lists will rent their donor list for a set price per thousand records to other organizations. Often these lists can be successful as these donors have proven they are charitable to other organizations.

3.     Cooperative Database (Co-op) – can be another cost-effective method for acquiring donor prospects, but in order to receive names, your organization must participate in the co-op and share your donor list to be part of the larger pool of information. Once you have shared your list, the co-op will use data points like demographic and transactional information gathered from other organizations and companies to identify your donor profiles. Once these profiles are built, they will create a model for your organization and will identify look-alike prospects, who are likely to respond to your solicitation.

4.     Deeply Lapsed Donors – for a variety of reasons, your donors may stop giving to your organization. Maybe they moved, got married or just forgot to make a donation. Whatever the reason, at some point they supported your organization, so they make a great prospect with the right ask. Meyer Partners uses predictive modeling to help identify and score the top deep lapsed multi and single gift donors that are worth soliciting again.

5.     Internal Lists (Volunteers, Grateful Patients, Friends of Board Members, Gift In-Kind Donors, No-Fee Event Attendees) – don’t forget there could be potential donors already in your files. While these people have not stepped up to make a donation yet, they are still linked to your organization and with the right offer could become regular financial supporters as well.

With this variety of list sources, it is vital your organization tests a sample from these lists (at least 5,000 per list if possible) before expanding and investing further.

We recently saw the importance of list testing with Meals on Wheels Foundation of Northern Illinois and their Spring Acquisition package. Meals on Wheels had established a control package style through testing that was providing a steady response, but the cost-to-acquire these donors was still high since they hadn’t found the right prospect lists to mail. We identified that cooperative database lists had performed well when Meals on Wheels was part of a national syndicate program, so we looked to re-build the models with a local focus on Northern Illinois and also looked to test other similar co-op lists to identify the best investment. And the testing helped us identify the successful lists to expand on for future acquisition packages.

Does your team need assistance with your direct mail acquisition program this fall? Contact me at alyssa.jefferies@meyerpartners.com and we’d be happy to assist in building your program!