Tips for Safe, Fearless List Exchange
For its own protection and the protection of its constituents, it’s important for an organization to have a list policy if it is selling or exchanging its member or donor list.
A list policy, says Virginia Dambach, director of marketing communications for DEI, an umbrella organization that serves the development and marketing needs of public radio stations nationwide, should outline mutual expectations between the organization and those with which it rents or exchanges its lists.
An organization should create a list policy that it feels comfortable sharing with anyone, whether it be other organizations or its own constituents. DEI recommends the following tips when devising a list policy:
* Fully disclose to donors/constituents that you exchange and/or rent your mailing list. Also, inform your constituents of how they can request their name not be exchanged or rented.
* Specifically regarding public radio stations, do not rent or exchange your list with political candidates, partisan political organizations or lobbying organizations. Doing so can lead to a skewed public perception.
* Consider your policy from a donor’s point of view and ask yourself if a donor would be offended to receive a mailing from a particular group with which you might be considering renting or exchanging your list.
* Consider whether renting to or exchanging your list with a particular organization would break the trust of your constituents, and deny the list to organizations that it might harm your reputation to be affiliated with.
* Have each department within your organization review membership/donor/constituent lists to identify any names that might be inappropriate for inclusion in a list that is exchanged or rented, and code them for removal.
* Make sure that a member of senior management always is involved in decisions relating to the list.
* Make sure your list-exchange practices comply with federal and state laws. For information on these laws, contact your state’s Attorney General’s Office.
Dambach says a list policy also can help ensure that when exchanging lists with another organization you’re getting a clean, updated list in return -- rather than a list of expires. She says she’s seen a number of worst-case scenarios that prove the need for a list policy. In one case, a radio station exchanged its list with a theater. When contacting individuals on the station’s list, the theater informed them that the radio station thought they would be interested in supporting the theater. The source of a list is one thing you should never share, Dambach says.
Some organizations are hesitant to exchange names out of fear that they’ll lose members to the organizations they trade with, but Dambach says exchanging names is the best thing you can do.
“The more crossover your organization has with the organization you’re trading with, the better chance you are both going to have of getting new members because people who give, give to many organizations,” she says.
Dambach recommends exchanging lists over renting because not only does it keep costs down, but also the individuals on the list are highly qualified.
“You already know they give. They give to an organization that has a mission similar to yours,” she says. “If you’re trading with organizations that have similar missions and therefore similar targeted demographics, you just really boost your chances of securing new members.”
And why pay for those names through an acquisition list service when you can get them for free, she adds.
In closing, Dambach says organizations should not fear that list exchange will wear out donors. Trust that donors who don’t want to be on exchanged or rented lists will notify you of that. But don’t not mail because you think people might be worn out. If you have a history of successful direct-mail acquisition and people are supporting your organization, don’t stop mailing.
For more information on DEI or to contact Virginia Dambach, www.deiworksite.org