Special Report: Fundraising 101 Direct Mail
2. Acquisition is still the lifeblood of your program
In difficult times, many of us find ourselves rising to the defense of our direct-mail acquisition programs. Acquisition sticks out like a sore thumb as the part of your program that, most likely, loses money. Even the best programs in the most promising sectors usually only come close to breaking even. You might decide it’s best to keep your investment in new-donor acquisition flat this year, but don’t slash and burn.
Decreasing new-donor acquisition programs will increase your net income only in the short term. However, not mailing acquisition will cost you next year … and the year after that … and the year after that. Your board members might not understand this, but it’s your job to explain it to them.
Acquisition is an investment that pays off over time, when you add new donors who will renew and upgrade their giving over succeeding years. You must weigh the short-term benefits of cutting back on acquisition versus the long-term risk of not acquiring new donors.
3. The list is the most important component of your mailing
The best offer, the strongest copy, and the most compelling direct-mail design and format won’t work if they’re not aimed at the right audience. The list is the most important part of your mail plan.
Today, it’s more important than ever to minimize risk in new-donor acquisition. Choose lists based on past performance. Measure performance by income per thousand letters mailed and cost to acquire a donor. Cost to acquire a donor is calculated by dividing the net investment (or loss) by the number of donors acquired. As a general rule, the most you should invest to acquire a donor is the average gift of that donor, i.e., the cost to acquire a $20 donor should be $20 or less.