I just had a conversation with the Executive Director about building the list for her non-profit with direct mail. It was interesting, and there are some good points to share.
First, she's under pressure from her Board to increase the number of names on the mailing list. Now, this is just "let's get it done" pressure rather than "do it or you're fired" pressure. In fact, the Board is also willing to spend a couple hundred dollars on renting a list to see what results they get.
Which brings me to the first good point: Never buy a list.
When Judy (not her real name) e-mailed me, she said they were looking at buying a list - what did I think. Well, I was headed to the bank anyway, so I stopped into her office afterward.
Direct Mail Marketing Tip #1
If you can BUY the list, then it isn't worth having.
Direct mail lists are always rented. You send your mail piece to the list broker, or printer, and they address the envelopes. You only get the names of people who respond to you offer. And you get their names through their response. (I know...killer obvious.)
People in the non-profit sector have a tendency to freak out when you tell them they're running a business. It's like you're swearing at them.
To become a not-for-profit business, first you have to incorporate. Then you apply for non-profit status. And if you want to be a charity, you have even more rules and guidelines to follow. Plus they all have to file income tax returns - just like any business.
So why do they get so freaked out when you tell Boards of Directors and Executive Directors that they have to behave like a business?
According to Convio, Edge Research and Sea Change Strategies, charitable giving is a $118.2 Billion dollar market for 2010 in the United States. That's the marketplace in just one country. (Have a look at their paper on giving.)
Here's my point: A Not-For-Profit Business is a business that must provide a high value experience while delivering an intangible product.
When I invest $100 to purchase a footprint on the Bruce Trail, or $55 to puchase one square foot in a Habitat for Humanity House, I'm investing in Conservation and Community. There's no UPS package rate for either.
The paper from Convio has a lot of good information in it. It's called "The Next Generation of American Giving" and it looks at Continue reading →