Keep It Clean
If you’re a fundraising professional spending a huge chunk of your organization’s precious development budget on direct mail, these figures should make you sleep a little less soundly tonight.
According to the U.S. Postal Service:
- An average of 40 million address changes are registered on the National Change of Address database annually.
- 30 percent of all mail contains address errors.
- Almost 10 percent of all mail pieces have incomplete or incorrect directional/suffix values.
- More than 5 percent have missing or invalid street names and/or numbers.
- An additional 5 percent have incorrect ZIP codes.
- And another 5 percent are missing an apartment number or rural route box number.
With their continued increases, postal rates can represent the greatest cost to a mailer’s campaign. So it’s become even more important to keep your data standardized, and to update or eliminate non-deliverable addresses. Many mailers dedicate much of their time to finding ways to reduce their final price per mailed piece. But between negotiating net name arrangements with brokers for list rental and tailoring the creative portion of the piece to minimize production and printing costs, hygiene might get overlooked as one of the most effective ways to cut significant waste.
It doesn’t take very long to consider the quantities and cost per piece of your last mailing and apply the statistics above to figure how significant a savings you might realize by eliminating that segment of non-deliverable records.
For example, if you were to rent 100,000 names from various sources at an average cost of $90 per thousand and an average net arrangement of 85 percent, your budget dedicated to just the list rental would be $7,650. After duplicate elimination and suppression based on information compiled by the Direct Marketing Association, you might be left with roughly 80,000 unique names based on averages we’ve seen on mailings from many nonprofit groups and lists. To illustrate what some of these averages equate to in wasted dollars for your campaign were you to forgo postal processing, you could assume a conservative 10 percent to 15 percent of non-deliverable names — or 8,000 to 12,000 pieces based on this universe. The cost of those rental names would have been $720 to $1,080, and assuming that the combined creative, printing and postal costs came in at 75 cents per piece, there would be an additional loss of $6,000 to $9,000 for those packages.