Focus On: Lists: Prospecting Lists that Work
When it comes to magazine [lists], we look at paid versus “Bill me later” or trial subs. This makes a big difference. Again it’s an issue of the payment (hopefully a check was written versus calling in with the credit card to renew/subscribe). Also, DTP (direct to-publisher) versus agent-sold or other media (school plans, TV-sold, Web-sold) … will make a big difference.
And in all lists, three things matter the most. They are recency, recency, recency. This is the single most important variable. When people demonstrate a behavior (to buy or donate), they are most likely to repeat that behavior soon thereafter. The farther away from that you get time-wise, the less likely their repeating that behavior will be.
FS: Where can you locate this detailed level of list-selection information?
SMcK: In some cases a broker can ask about these types of selects even though they may not be on a list-data card. The more you know (or your broker knows) about the customer-acquisition strategies of “List X” (a list you use), the better. Names on lists are not just a compilation of demographics and interests; they are equally a compilation of people with similar demonstrated behaviors.
Kory Christianson, director of development, St. Joseph’s Indian School, Chamberlain, SD
FundRaising Success: In prospecting, what percent of your organization’s mailings typically go to other nonprofit lists, general consumer-response lists, compiled lists, etc.?
Kory: Christianson: We almost entirely rely on response lists for our donor-prospecting efforts. We have tested a few compiled lists but not with much success. Mostly, we mail to other charitable lists, particularly those with an interest in Catholic charities or Native American causes.
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?
KC: Our acquisition goal is a 2 percent or higher response rate coupled with a $10 minimum average gift. That keeps us to where, in terms of our front-end cost recovery, we’re recouping over 50 percent of our outlay in 18 to 24 months.