Focus On: Lists: Prospecting Lists that Work
FS: Do you typically work with brokers, an agency or both when it comes to lists for mailing?
MB: Our broker is excellent at constantly reviewing and renegotiating pricing and usage arrangements for each of our mailings. As our internal development staff is lean in size, we rely heavily on our broker, and he is an integral part of our strategic team.
FS: How aggressive do you need to be in your direct mail fundraising efforts to maintain and grow your file? What’s your timeframe for recouping those acquisition costs?
MB: We would like to be more aggressive, but limited list universes and increasing duplication are definitely factors affecting growth. Constant testing and model development are imperative to maintaining file size. Some resources have been shifted to focus on donor retention and lapsed-donor reactivation. Donor segments with no gifts in the past four to six years have been successfully reactivated with renewal rates equal to or exceeding those of newly acquired donors.
Shawn McKenna, director, individual gifts program, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, headquartered in New York City
FundRaising Success: What percent of your organization’s donor acquisition mailings typically go to other nonprofit lists, general consumer-response lists, compiled lists, etc.?
Shawn McKenna: We mail 100 percent to response lists. I have tested various catalogs and subscriber lists with some success. We focus our list selection around the idea of concentric circles extending outward from the target with the center of the bull’s-eye being our primary lists, and moving out from there to other response lists, then to compiled lists; however, we don’t mail to any compiled lists at this time.
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)?
SMcK: Our financial commitment to direct mail prospecting is not that large: Only about 5 percent of the organization’s income is from direct mail prospecting, and we only mail about four to five million pieces a year.