Focus On: Lists: Prospecting Lists that Work
Over the last five or six years, we’ve had to be more aggressive than in the past in terms of prospecting to maintain and grow our donor base. But we are still probably 85 percent core and related lists, and 15 percent test lists.
In terms of the dollars spent and number of packages we mail, we have increased our efforts for acquisition over the years. What this reflects is probably not a significant change in list strategy; we simply allocated more resources to acquisition — going deeper into donor lists and expanding test lists. Plus, the cost of acquisition in terms of paper and postage has gone up.
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)?
KC: We look at our demographics in terms of who to target: Our donor base is older and made up mostly of women in their mid-60s who give to other Catholic charities. Their average gift is $15 to $20, and they tend to donate two to three times a year.
We have had some success with consumer magazines and even tried some off-the-wall things like gardening lists when the package we mailed included a premium of wildflower cards. It wasn’t wildly successful but was an interesting test.
FS: How important are list exchanges? Is it difficult to manage and negotiate exchanges?
KC: The more we mail, the more we have to rent names. Right now, the balance is about 55 percent rental to about 45 percent exchange. I feel nonprofits are probably a little more open to exchanges than mailers in some other markets. In a way, you could say we are mailing against our competitors; but in a strange way, we help each other out, too. So it’s sort of like “a rising tide lifts all boats.”