Selecting a List, Testing It Twice …
The economy must be truly improving, as I'm involved in more and more conversations about the need to invest in donor acquisition. For most nonprofits, today's reality isn't too encouraging. The Agitator summed it up like this last week:
"The average nonprofit has a 60 to 70% chance of getting an additional contribution from existing donors; a 20 to 40% probability of getting a gift from a lapsed donor; but less than a 2% chance of receiving a gift from a prospect."
Ignoring donor acquisition is one way to commit career suicide, since nonprofits lose a percentage of donors every year without even trying. Whether you call it churn or attrition, it's reality.
And that reality means that doing something to acquire new donors is essential.
For some nonprofits, online acquisitions may be enough to stem the tide of donor loss. Events can provide new donors and often a pool of prospects for work over the next several months.
But to acquire a large number of new donors quickly, nonprofits often turn to direct mail. It's cheap (well, compared to an option like direct-response television); you can target a specific geographic area or demographic; and over time you recoup your costs, identify potential major donors and planned-giving prospects, and build a loyal — and profitable — group of supporters.
Success in direct-mail acquisition requires a great offer and terrific creative, plus choosing the right lists to mail to. In my experience, we often fall apart when choosing lists to mail. We look for bargains, mail the same lists over and over, or choose only lists that look very similar to our own donor files. I recently asked my good friend, Donna Packer of Packer List Inc., if there is a better way to approach list rental. Here are her top three tips.