Don't Break Your Concentration(s)
Around the time that the housing crisis was coming to a head, many nonprofits started to cut back on their direct-mail acquisition efforts.
Now, at a time when many organizations are beginning to ramp back up to pre-2008 activity levels, it is more important than ever that those efforts be guided by sound strategy and shaped by sharp thinking.
One way to ensure that your acquisition direct mail gives you the most in terms of both donors and dollars is to geographically validate and adjust your list selection in order to direct your mail only to those areas most likely to produce response. Rather than fishing for new donors and members across a vast market defined, sometimes, rather haphazardly, a well-planned, well-targeted fishing expedition will yield a much greater catch. Here are some tips to give each piece of your mail a good shot at reaching a future donor.
Tip No. 1
Avoid the common pitfall of mailing where you have the greatest number of donors. Many organizations make the common mistake of querying their donors by ZIP code, looking at total quantity of donors in each ZIP and then developing their acquisition mail plans around these areas. That may seem like a straightforward and relatively easy way to isolate your best mailing areas, but it is important to remember that heavily populated urban areas naturally produce a higher raw number of donors simply by virtue of the number of people who live there. What is important to look at is the percentage of the households that your donors represent — or donor concentration.
Let's look at an example of two different ZIP codes with the same number of donors (Figure 1). A donor count suggests that both ZIP codes be mailed, and it appears that they are equal in terms of their value to the mail plan.