8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn’t work (Part 7)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

7. Your mailing list is made up of “donors” who aren’t really donors, and “prospects” who aren’t really prospects.

When I ask an organization how many donors they have, they usually give me a number that is the total size of their mailing list, including donors and in-house prospects. They do this because they’re used to printing that quantity for an entire mailing or to send out a newsletter.

But a mailing list is not a donor file, and what you may think of as prospects are probably better categorized as “suspects” or simply “people we’ve added to our mailing list over the years.”

A lot of mailing lists have donors on them who may have paid to attend an event. These are not donors. You also may have a lot of people who have made memorial gifts. Technically, these aren’t donors, either. The motivation for making a memorial gift is the death of a person someone knew, and they responded because they were asked to send a gift to your organization “in lieu of flowers.”

Event and memorial donors don’t easily convert to regular donor status. You can try, but the success rate is often low.

For this reason, it’s important to segment your file into groups that are similar so you can track response. Inadequate response from certain groups means you can eliminate them from future mailings.

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Wayne GurleyComment