List Buying Guide: Nonprofits Need to Play by the Numbers
While the Internet is becoming increasingly more important to nonprofits, direct mail remains the primary source for acquiring donors. As such, fundraisers have been pressed to expand their list testing activities to support their postal address needs. Target Marketing spoke with Margaret Guellich, senior director of development for American Life League, a religious-based pro-life organization, about what list strategies are working for her group right now.
Target Marketing: What are your top obstacles to finding successful list sources?
Margaret Guellich: Several challenges occur to me:
• Age of the donor is high in the charitable market, so finding prospects who are younger—in their mid 50s—is not easy.
• Latest update of the list being used. Is the list clean? Has the organization been doing acquisition, so the list you are renting or using is “fresh”?
• Net names. Finding lists that work, but also have a high net-name output.
• Working with a broker who knows your market—and your potential market—well.
TM: Which types of lists work well for your organization, and why?
MG: For American Life League, most often Catholic lists work because we are a Catholic [organization]. Other pro-life and advocacy lists also work because they match our mission. Secular pro-life lists also work, but [only] as long as the [promotion] copy used is not perceived as a purely Catholic message.
Most often, exchanged lists and rented donor/subscriber lists work well. Compiled lists behave poorly, as do secular lists with Catholic overlays.
TM: Are you having any success testing into new categories of lists? If so, which types and why do you think they are working for you?
MG: Yes, but it has more to do with targeting the package [used] to a market segment. For example, an openly Catholic pro-life message works much better to Catholic lists but does not necessarily resonate with advocacy lists; the package tone and language needs to be changed [to match this group’s interests]. American Life League is working on two control packages [to use] for different categories of lists.