Alicia Orr Suman

Alicia Orr Suman
A Multi-Level Approach to Lists

For the Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy “think tank” based in Washington, D.C., a typical budget is to mail 4 million to 5 million pieces. “We have a rough budget, but how much we mail depends on the year. For this year, plans are to mail 6 million pieces, looking to build on the opportunities created by the economy and the election year,” says Carsten Walter, director of membership programs for the organization. In mailing, Heritage follows a multi-level approach, the key determinant of which is the initial gift size, Walter says. “The higher initial gift size is obviously more desirable,” he explains.

Breathe Some Life Into Your Annual Campaign

When it comes to the question of which list strategies work to build and develop a base of annual giving donors, the obvious answer is to look for more names that are similar to your regular annual donors. Common industry wisdom says to analyze what your best donors are like and then go find more like them.

While that statement certainly is true, the problem with a simplistic approach is that it neglects important discussions of gift size, lifetime value, future giving potential and other key ingredients of a successful annual-giving program.

Upping Your E-appeal

Are you making the most of the Internet? If your organization is like many nonprofits, it might be time to rethink your online strategy.

Instead of thinking of the Internet as a sideline area rife with additional expenses and hassles, “all nonprofits should be thinking of it as a core tool,” according to Sheeraz Haji, CEO of GetActive Software in Berkeley, Calif.

Get Serious About Your ROI

Renting lists for your mailing campaigns is a necessary — but inherently risky — expense. You’re spending money for an uncertain outcome because you can’t gauge exactly how names on a given list will respond at any particular moment.

So your priority in any list-rental situation should be to maximize return on investment. Here are five strategies for getting the most value out of your list-rental dollars:

Beyond Bricks and Mortar

Fundraisers who think that donors to a capital campaign wouldn’t be interested in supporting their organization otherwise often are missing out on a valuable funding source. Development personnel are finding that, like the old adage says, all ships do, indeed, rise with the tide.

Prospecting Lists that Work

You can have the most deserving cause and a highly compelling appeal, but your direct mail is going to be wasted if it’s sent to the wrong lists. That’s why, for any direct mail fundraising campaign, the list is the most important element within the nonprofit organization’s control — that, according to Mal Warwick, chairman of Mal Warwick & Associates Inc., Berkeley, CA.