You Can’t Test Too Much For Donor Acquisition

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When it comes to donor acquisition mailings, our motto is, “You never know until you test.”

When we talk to our nonprofit clients about their donor acquisition campaigns, we always recommend that they test mailing lists before they rent them and their fundraising pieces before they finalize their design.

How to choose from thousands of mailing lists

Thousands of mailing lists are available to rent for these mailings, and it is hard to know which will deliver the best results. We help our clients choose their lists by looking for lists with donors that are similar to their current supporters. For example, if our client’s mission is to ensure clean drinking water, we might suggest they test a list of people who have supported a cause aimed at ensuring clean air. Or, we might suggest a mailing list made up of people who subscribe to environmental magazines.

The aim is to test several mailing lists of potential donors who have interests and characteristics that are similar to your current donors.

Test your fundraising messages too

Just as important is testing the fundraising pieces that you will mail to these lists of potential donors. These test results are often quite eye opening. For example, one of our clients recently tested two different fundraising letters. One was straightforward. It showed, with charts and graphs, facts and figures, just how well the nonprofit was doing in achieving its goals and serving its audience. The other letter focused on one recipient of the nonprofit’s services. It included a picture of her and told her story, a very touching and heartwarming account. The second letter outperformed the first dramatically.

For more tips and ideas of how to use direct mail to acquire new donors for your nonprofits, see our free resource “Five tips for effective donor acquisition”.


Julie Thomas

Business Development

August 18, 2014

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