The Perfect Recipe for Donor Prospect List Segmentation
With just a few ingredients, you can tailor every donor prospect acquisition effort.
- half cup of lapsed house donors
- half cup of online activists, petition/survey signers and tippers cocktail
- half cup of outside lists
- half cup of co-op models (the secret sauce)
- a dash of testing*
*Must have. No substitutions allowed.
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven comes to temperature, make sure to segment all the ingredients. Doing so will help you market to each segment more effectively.
2. In a large bowl, start by adding the lapsed donors. This ingredient must be ripened before using in this recipe (as early as 25 months and, depending on the organization, up to 61 months since the last contribution). The beauty of this base ingredient is that the names are free, which will only drive down your list costs and increase your ROI. Plus, it will allow you to reintroduce your mission to former donors and hopefully get them to renew their support at a more cost-efficient rate than through appeal or renewal efforts.
3. Next, pour in the online activists, petition/survey signers and tippers cocktail. You don't have to buy this ingredient; it can be easily made. Start with random selects (or the entire list, if so desired) from your lists of online activists and non-donor petition/survey signers. Both online activists and non-donor petitions/survey signers have indicated an interest in your organization but may not have made the leap to financial support. They are prime recipe candidates because, like lapsed names, they are free. Tippers are the love-hate ingredient in the cocktail. Tippers are the donors in your file who contribute less than $10 every time they respond. From them, you will get the response desired but not the average dollar amount sought. For best results, prioritize the online activists, petition/survey signers and tippers cocktail below the lapsed ingredient when combining.
4. Carefully stir in the selected outside lists. As with all quality ingredients, some will cost more than others. However, that doesn't mean you should only select the most expensive lists to include in this recipe. Here, look into testing different layers of each list. Be sure to include the following areas:
- Exchange or rental — When prospecting on outside lists, first exchange lists with other similar organizations, as that will help boost the overall net. NOTE: You will only qualify for exchange rates if you make your house list available for exchange. After exchanges, add rentals. This steps lets you prospect to donors if your organization was not able to receive donors on exchange.
- Recency: three, six, 12 or 24 months — Always select the most recent donors who have given (i.e., zero-three months) to the particular organization whose list you want to rent. Don't be afraid to test into deeper ranges of recency.
- Demographics: gender, age or dollar — Serves as a handy way to narrow quantities from large files during the ordering process. Remember, female donors older than 50 are the most responsive prospects; they will respond to almost anything. Finding those same female donors who regularly contribute more than $50 is even better!
- Geography: state, sectional center facility (SCF) or ZIP code — For smaller organizations, this select might be the most important one to test. Start by targeting your core geographic area. Then, immediately expand to a nearby territory, such as neighboring ZIP codes, SCF ranges or entire states.
Adding any of the above selects is a great way to tweak a tier three or lower segment into a tier one segment. However, it comes at a cost. Getting too carried away can hurt the segment. Make sure to stir well to prevent uneven results.
5. Add the secret sauce: Co-op models are a must-have. Participating in a nonprofit data co-op not only provides access to modeled prospect lists of donors who most resemble contributors already in your file, but also does so at a fraction of the cost of traditional outside list sources. These donors tend to have healthier response rates, larger average gifts, far greater long-term value and stay active longer when compared to donors acquired trough traditional outside lists.
Don't limit yourself to just one co-op. Join as many as you reasonably can. No two co-ops create the exact same models, so test a variety.
6. Add a dash of testing, another must-have! Every recipe ingredient should contain a test of some sort. Test new house sources, test new outside lists and test new segments, but don't expose your recipe to more than 20 percent of your total estimated mail quantity to prevent exposing yourself to too much risk.
7. Put the mixture in the oven and bake for approximately three weeks. Pull the finished mailing out of the oven, and enjoy all the new donors you have brought on board.
3 recipe takeaways:
- Be sure to segment the right amount of ingredients.
- Never omit any step when going through the testing process.
- Be sure to use enough secret sauce when prospecting. Never omit the secret sauce.