Identifying Lists That Work: The Basics
Usually, a circulation plan will include primarily response lists. The first type of response list is a donor response list. These lists are proven donors who have given to an organization through the mail. Examples of these donor lists are CARE, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Habitat for Humanity.
Other lists that work for the fundraiser are catalog lists and publishing lists. Catalog lists are proven merchandise buyers who shop through the mail. Examples of this include L.L. Bean®, Norm Thompson, Orvis® and J. Jill. Catalog buyers have a strong affinity for nonprofit offers since the demographic profile often matches (woman, age 55+).
Publishing lists are subscribers to a magazine or continuity club. Some examples of publishing lists include Time Magazine, Book-of-the-Month Club, and Martha Stewart Living.
Another type of list that a fundraiser can mail is called a compiled list. Compiled lists are aggregates of mass amounts of data derived from public sources. These public sources include automobile registrations, driver’s licenses, warranty cards and the phone book. Compiled lists work well as response lists; however, they have their place for regional offers, data modeling and data overlays (e.g., if your organization wants to overlay age on your house database records).
Start the acquisition process
Once the potential lists are chosen, the next step will be for your organization to provide a sample mailing piece, mail date and what you want to mail from the list to the list broker. The list broker then will clear the sample mailing piece with the list manager of the list you wish to rent/exchange.
Even if your sample mailing piece isn’t ready to mail, the list manager needs to provide it to the owner of the list. This protects your organization and the owner, and prevents fraudulent and unauthorized use. The list industry is often the unfair target of privacy zealots who threaten to stop direct mail. List owners, managers, brokers and mailers work hard to prevent less honorable organizations from conducting business in the mail.