Do You Need to Clean Up and Organize Your Mailing Lists?

Wow, summer is flying by. It will be September before you know it. Like many nonprofit organizations, you may be doing a big year-end fundraising appeal. If so, you need to start planning for it now.

A good place to start is by cleaning up and organizing your mailing lists (direct mail and email). I know this is boring, but it’s something you need to take seriously.

Add, edit, and delete
Tackle all those address change requests or bounced email addresses that may have accumulated over the last several months.

Also, check for misspelled or incorrect names and addresses. I’m often addressed as Anne instead of Ann.

You won’t make a good impression if you get your donor’s name wrong or there’s a typo in the address. If a donor ever lets you know his or her name is incorrect, apologize and fix it right away.

Your database is a goldmine
A good database can make a big difference in your fundraising. But the best database in the world won’t matter if you haphazardly enter information and don’t keep it current.

Who does your data entry, and how well do they know your donors? You might need to have your development director, executive director, or any board members who interact with donors look over your donor lists to make sure the information is accurate. Tedious, yes, but important.

Add any personal bits of information about your donors to your database. This could include attending an event or meeting with a board member. You’ll need this when you personalize your letters (see below) and add a short handwritten note to each one.

Invest in a good database, as well as an email service provider to make this easier for you.

5 Signs Your Nonprofit Needs to Stop Using Excel and Get a Database!

 
 
Divide and conquer
Segment your mailing lists by current donors, monthly donors, first-time donors, long-term donors, lapsed donors, other supporters (e.g. people who subscribe to your email list but aren’t donors), event attendees, volunteers, etc.

You want to personalize your letters according to donor group. You’re going to have the most luck with current donors, especially if you’ve been showing gratitude and sharing accomplishments throughout the year.

10 Ways to Segment Your Donors to Improve Fundraising Effectiveness

 
Go multi-channel
You’ll have more success in your fundraising campaign if you can communicate with your donors through more than one channel.

When going through your lists, you may discover you have mailing addresses for some donors, but no email addresses or vice versa. Here you need to write or email your donors to get that information. They may not give it to you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

You can also email your donors to invite them to follow you on social media and post something on social media inviting folks to sign up for your email list.

Personalization makes a difference
You want to get your donors’ names right and make sure there aren’t any typos in their addresses. Also, if you can personalize your appeal letters, you’ll have a better chance of getting a donation.


Of course, this will take time, which is why you should start thinking about it now and not at the end of October.
 
Photo by Luke McGuff  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode
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