3 Tactics for Marketing to Faith-Based Lists
It's always nice to acquire prospects who not only develop a zealous habit of returning to your organization, but also a faith in your product, brand or cause. It's no surprise that marketers have taken taken up the term "brand evangelists" to describe those loyal customers or constituents who spread positive word-of-mouth about their companies.
If you seek customer loyalty, then look no further than faith-based donors. Dennis Meyer, president of Meyer Partners, a Schaumburg, Ill.-based full-service fundraising and marketing agency, describes faith-based donors as "supporting everything." Meyer cites a landmark Russ Reid Co. study, The Heart of the Donor, which found that 75 percent of all nonprofit donors are regular in their attendance of either church or synagogue.
Faith-based donors are ideal prospects both for the nonprofit and general market sectors alike. To profit from faith-based lists, consider the following expert advice:
1. Know What Kinds of Lists Are Available
According to John Kehoe, founder and president of Trinity Direct, a list management and brokerage company based in Butler, N.J., the Catholic sect is the largest and easiest group of religious donors to identify, followed by general Christian donors. He says that getting detailed Protestant sect information is nearly impossible. "Traditional Protestant mainstream religions do not have their lists available on the market," he explains. Jewish donor files are also profitable. "The Jewish lists are very much like the Catholic lists; they are very available, targeted and you can do very well with a strong Jewish appeal," he notes.
Kehoe advises catalogers to tap into religious catalog buyer lists, because those prospects have shown equal response to general market catalog offers.
Currently, religious donor files do not contain many e-mail addresses, and that's something the industry is working to build. "Fortunately, Trinity Direct has gotten very aggressive into [the e-mail] market, and we are doing a lot ... to help our clients in their e-mail marketing programs," Kehoe explains.
2. Use Response-Based Files
Response-based lists are the most accurate lists available in the religious donor market. Kehoe says compiled lists are not as accurate, because they use ethnic overlays to pinpoint a donor's denomination. "Names have changed so drastically within the United States. You can have a last name that's Italian and you could be a Protestant, or you could have a last name that's Japanese or Korean and be Catholic," he observes. Ethnic overlays are only about 60 percent accurate, which Kehoe describes as pretty low.
If you already have a religious donor file, you can further segment by asking constituents to provide their religious affiliations. "We have, in the past, asked whoever we worked with ... to identify which church or parish they might belong to. And so they self-identify as Presbyterian, Lutheran or Methodist," Meyer explains.
3. Develop Recession-Proof Renewals
While acquisitions might be tough in this flagging economy, Meyer says he hasn't noticed any falloff yet in donor renewal. In his recent research for Presbyterian Church USA, Meyer found that 87 percent of donors said they'd continue to support their congregations at the same level that they had in the past. "I think finding new donors is very challenging, and particularly more challenging right now in this environment. But regular donors and historic donors have tended to be very loyal," he says. Meyer adds, "Most donors have a hierarchy of giving to various organizations, and in almost all cases, their local church, synagogue or parish is No. 1 on their lists." So in difficult times, a religious donor may stop giving to some cultural organizations, but for religious and humanitarian causes, they will continue to give.
"Show a need for their donation, and show that they are doing something that is helping society with their donation," Kehoe recommends.