You Asked—Fundraising Questions Answered, Part Two
Continuing my follow-up to the NonProfit PRO webinar David Gunn from Salsa Labs and I presented, here are my answers to some of the questions people submitted. As I said last week, often what one person is asking is the unvoiced question of others.
What are best practices in researching and renting lists of potential prospects? Unfortunately, the days of renting a list and getting a great response are gone. But you can improve your odds of success by working with a company that models a list of prospects that "look like" your current donors. Often, a modeled list is more successful in terms of responses than one that isn't. However, if you are a small nonprofit, modeling may not be an option due to cost or a lack of sufficient volume. At the very least, look for lists of people who have done something—donated, participated, etc.—and not a compiled list. Frankly, my experience in the past few years is that free or near-free lists and most compiled lists are worth what you paid for them—little to nothing. You're better off investing in list rental with a list broker who will get to know your organization and offer, and knows what lists are working, what lists are over-mailed and what lists aren't well-maintained (the last thing you want to do is rent a bunch of names of deceased people). There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a list broker. Find one who goes the extra mile, and remember, bigger may not be better for you, especially if you don't have a great track record to use for reference or if you are new to the list rental game and need some hand-holding.
Does engaging new supporters/donors include advocacy? It can, or it may not. A lot depends on your cause. Sometimes an advocacy campaign is a real stretch and it's not something that is going to stir people to action. Also, your donors may not be inclined toward advocacy. Finally, you have to have a solid strategy to convert advocates to donors. Some of us are volunteers, some are advocates, some are donors—but not all of us are all of these. So...