When building your donor mailing list, there are certain elements to keep in mind that allow you to shape your list into a strong and actionable file. This, in turn, will allow you to personalize your outreach and increase average donations.
Here are 3 tips for building a better donor mailing list:
1. Keep track of gift history. Tracking this information allows you to deliver personalized experiences that keep donors active in future campaigns. If you know what they have given in the past, you know where to start the ask amount next time and can implement what is known as an ask matrix.
An ask matrix is a grid of suggested ask amounts based on the donor’s previous gift. If they gave $50 last year, the minimum ask amount would be $50 and the other suggested amounts would increase from there.
When you suggest their most recent gift as the starting point for the next gift, you are subliminally encouraging a donor to give that amount again. You may even encourage them to give more – they may wish to appear as more generous than just donating the minimum.
It’s also a good idea to track gift history so you can identify lapsed donors and send them targeted messages that encourage them to re-engage with your cause. Your lapsed donors are an important source for your campaigns: they are already familiar with you, having donated in the past, and will most likely donate again if asked. Not to mention, the average cost to acquire a new donor is $25, so by focusing some of your attention on existing donors, you overcome some of that cost.
2. Don’t overlook your prospect list. While part of your focus should be on current and active donors, your main focus should be prospecting to continually acquire new donors. Donor acquisition is critical for every non-profit. Every year, your house list loses at least 55% of its volume. There is a lot of turnover, as 60-90% of first time donors don’t donate again the next year, plus a portion of your list will move or pass away.
The great news is that you don’t have to start from scratch. There are great resources out there that can help you identify what general characteristics your current donors share and use that information to build your prospect list using what is known as modeling.
You can use predictive or Look-A-Like modeling to identify the prospects that look exactly like your most loyal donors. This means that you can target your outreach, filtering the list down to those that are the most likely to respond.
3. Ask for referrals. One of the most important things you can do is ask your donors who they know that might be interested in your cause. Having them advocate for you via word of mouth can help you grow your list “organically.” Referrals work well because they rely on the authority and trust between donors and their friends.
A good potential fit for this is a United States Postal Service (USPS) product called Share Mail. This allows recipients to mail pre-printed postcards to their friends saying they have donated and ask the friends to donate as well. This can also be used to invite their friends to an event they are attending, as they might do with a Facebook event page, giving them the opportunity to interact with a physical touchpoint that may have a more personal feel than the digital equivalent.
The Bottom Line
Building a strong donor mailing list will set up a strong foundation for success that allows you to boost your fundraising results and build relationships with your donors for years to come.