Focus On: Lists: Prospecting Lists that Work
Read on for three other professionals’ insights into these and other challenging lists issues.
Mark Briggs, database marketing manager, Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, headquartered in New York City
FundRaising Success: In direct mail acquisition, what percent of your organization’s mailings typically go to other nonprofit lists, general consumer-response lists or compiled lists, etc.?
Mark Briggs: Our mailings generally consist of 25 percent nonprofit, 45 percent consumer response and 30 percent compiled [lists]. As the majority of our appeals include premiums, consumer lists have consistently worked well for us and make up a greater percentage of our total list usage than most other nonprofits.
FS: How important are list exchanges to your direct mail prospecting efforts? Is it difficult to manage and negotiate exchanges?
MB: Exchanges remain an important part of our acquisition programs. Our list management and brokerage firm [Mokrynski & Associates] has done a wonderful job of maintaining exchange balances and negotiating arrangements. Some balance disputes have occurred in the past but are generally limited to only a few lists. Overlap between lists is an issue but nowhere near that of housefile duplication. Most nonprofits seem to have a much lower turnover rate than the consumer lists that we use, causing higher duplication rates with continued usage. Our mailing plans allow for periodic resting of lists to allow new names to accumulate.
FS: Has your list universe changed at all in recent years?
MB: Our usage of fundraising lists has declined somewhat in recent years as housefile match rates increase and universes continue to decline. The usage of modeled compiled lists has increased rapidly in the last year.
FS: Where do you look for new list-testing ideas? Have you had much success testing “outside of the box” (i.e., using compiled lists and databases, catalog lists, magazine subscriber names)?
MB: We have always been an aggressive tester of new lists. Most new tests come from the catalog and compiled categories as other areas are showing only very limited growth. Many are tests from outside of our normal target demographic zone, and some have produced surprising results. The rollout rate has averaged around 15 percent to 20 percent in recent years.