FOCUS ON: LISTS Feeling Exhausted? Your prospecting lists — and you — can get a much-needed pick-me-up with an influx of nams from commercial files.
By ELIZABETH KORSUN and ERIN DOLAN
Even in the face of diminishing returns, fundraisers tend to stick with a “safe” group of prospect lists — in other words, donor files. But these days, if you’re only working with primary-market data to grow your membership, you’re fighting a war of attrition. What an organization really needs to flourish is new blood, an infusion of new people excited to learn about how it’s making the world a better place.
Americans already have shown how spontaneously charitable they can be. A tremendous outpouring of support for tsunami victims came from a staggering number of American households, and the
scenario was repeated after Hurricane Katrina. This charitable support didn’t come from “proven” donors. These are regular folks who want to make a difference.
If you can create a groundswell of support for your cause outside of the usual community of fundraiser supporters, you can create the new revenue streams necessary for advancing your overall mission.
Take Habitat for Humanity, for example. Its mission back in 1976 was to provide a simple, decent place to live for people who lack adequate housing. Today, the organization reports that it has built 200,000 houses, sheltering more than 1 million people in 3,000 communities.
Where do you think Habitat accumulated its new donors? If you guessed catalog, publishing, business and modeling lists, you’re right. On top of that, Habitat gets everyday people from the community to chip in, pick up a hammer and help construct the houses.
If Habitat can do it, so can you. It takes a little ingenuity, some good negotiating, a few successes and even failures to develop a solid strategy of donor-acquisition campaigns outside the traditional fundraising universe.
Following are 10 tips for using new lists to help you breathe more life into your fundraising.