First-hand List Strategies
The Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights membership organization that works for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality, doesn’t take list rental and exchange lightly. Dane Grams, HRC’s online strategy director, took some time recently to speak with FS about HRC’s policies regarding list rental and exchange, sharing some practices that you might find helpful at your organization.
According to Grams, HRC rents and exchanges its list with fair-minded organizations and companies that are GLBT supportive. All requests for clearance of its list go through its list broker and are pre-screened. Requests that make it past the broker are put through a rigorous approval process in which Grams analyzes the proposed direct-mail package to be sent to HRC’s list. One thing he scrutinizes is the outer envelope.
“For us it’s the most important thing, especially when we’re sharing with other gay-rights organizations, to make sure that there’s nothing that would potentially out someone on the carrier envelope,” he says.
Two other key considerations are the topic of the mailing and its timing. HRC works to avoid renting or exchanging its list to organizations that will be mailing campaigns with messages similar to those it is sending at that time. Grams says that in such cases, HRC would tell the organization that the list rental or exchange will be approved at a later date.
Maintaining the privacy of members on its list is of the utmost concern to the organization. For HRC, this means only exchanging the names on its list to a third party licensed mail lender for one-time use by an organization. It also means allowing members to opt out of having their names included on a rented or exchanged list. Each issue of HRC’s quarterly magazine, Equality, as well as its mailings and welcome package, explains the organization’s list rental/exchange policy briefly and gives members a chance to opt out. The description reads: “Occasionally we exchange the names of our members with other progressive organizations that may appeal to you. We carefully screen each mailing to ensure integrity and a high standard of privacy. If you prefer not to receive other informational materials, simply check here and we’ll gladly honor your wishes.”
After this, in parenthesis, the organization notes that it does not share members’/constituents’ e-mail addresses with anyone. Grams says the organization prefers to keep its e-mail list protected as a privacy pledge to its members.
And in terms of list hygiene, Grams says the organization does quarterly NCOAs, its member services department makes name and address changes as they come in, and it has a deduping process that alerts staff when a file is suspected to be a duplicate. The organization also has a manual integration process between its e-mail list and its membership database to ensure that those that are signed up on its e-mail list are in the membership database, and vice versa.
Dane Grams can be reached via www.hrc.org