The experienced direct mail list experts at AccuList® use scientific methods and competitive-analysis research to find and screen the most popular, proven mailing lists for specific fundraising appeals. Although media reporting firm SRDS DirectNet® claims 65,000 mailing lists in its database, 98% of those do not have favorable mailing histories for fundraising. AccuList has conducted decades of historical list research, including thousands of list and creative tests, to help separate the wheat from the chaff and recommend only those postal lists most likely to cost-effectively deliver response.
How We Identify the Top Lists by Fundraising Appeal
Of course, as NextMark and SRDS DirectNet accredited list brokers, we start by identifying lists that target audiences for specific causes. Lists of donors to humanitarian appeals are of obvious interest in a food-bank donor acquisition effort as an example. However, we also go beyond a narrow focus to select non-endemic lists. For instance, publication subscribers and catalog buyers may perform favorably for donor acquisition because they fit a demographic and giving-interest profile that closely resembles a charity’s best donors. But there is more to list selection than targeting the right audience. A key factor to consider is data sourcing, with branded first-party data as the gold standard in terms of response and hygiene. Mail-sourced lists tick another box, since known donors to direct-mail campaigns are more likely to respond to another mail effort. List size matters, too. Does a list have enough names for a regional or national roll-out? The standard Recency-Frequency-Money (RFM) rules of marketing response apply as well. How often are names mailed and added to a list? Is there a “hotline” of most recent responders? Can the names on a list be selected for the average dollar value of gifts? Once a list is vetted for such basics, we conduct proprietary research into its usage history to find which lists are most popular and repeatedly tapped by specific fundraising verticals. Then we can put together a report on the top 10 most popular postal lists by fundraising vertical. Here are four frequently requested reports of top-10 lists by fundraising appeal:
#1 Top 10 Postal Lists for Acquiring Food Bank Donors
The most popular list for Food Bank fundraising is “Christian Appalachian Project Contributors,” which unsurprisingly focuses on donations to help the needy. Less obvious is the second most popular list: “Make-a-Wish America.” Charitable efforts to fulfill the dreams of ill children carry over into food-bank giving. This shows why sticking too closely to specific targeting can miss mining donor gold! Click here to get a free download of our report on all top 10 lists for Food Bank fundraising.
#2 Top 10 Postal Lists for Acquiring Rescue Missions Donors
Many popular lists for Food Bank appeals also work well for Rescue Missions fundraising. But their rankings in terms of popularity shift, and there are some surprises when it comes to addressing homelessness. “Guideposts Corporate Magazines Masterfile,” which is made of subscribers to a group of inspiring Christian publications, comes up at the top for Rescue Mission fundraising. Another interesting top-10 list is “The Environmental Defense Fund,” whose projects go beyond environment issues to include impacts on the health and well-being of the socially vulnerable. Click here to get a free download of our report on all top 10 lists for Rescue Missions fundraising.
#3 Top 10 Postal Lists for Acquiring Law Enforcement Donors
While the top lists to attract donors in support of Law Enforcement nonprofits include many veterans-oriented lists, the leading postal list supplier is actually “The American Lung Association.” It is a charity whose donor demographics and conservativism fit well with law enforcement appeals. Since many law enforcement nonprofits also focus on helping vulnerable or troubled youth, lists such as “St. Joseph’s Indian School Donors” come into play as well. Click here to get a free download of our report on all top 10 lists for Law Enforcement fundraising.
#4 Top 10 Postal Lists for Acquiring Veterans’ Causes Donors
“The Wounded Warrior Project” leads the roster of donor data for Veterans’ Causes, along with many other veteran-specific donor lists. But respondents interested in long-term health issues have proven to be successful donor targets, too, with list such as “ACIR—American Institute for Cancer Research” as a popular choice for veterans’ appeals. Click here to get a free download of our report on all top 10 lists for Veterans’ Causes fundraising.
#5 Don’t See Your Fundraising Target? Ask Us for Help
Besides the fundraising verticals listed here, AccuList has experience with Animal Welfare Donors; Faith-Based Appeals; Progressive Fundraising; Health-related and Children’s Causes; Humanitarian Services; Membership Appeals; International Relief; and many more. Click here and let us know your specific fundraising interest, and we can help provide more targeted information.
Bad address data continue to depress ROI for a significant chunk of direct mail marketers. For mailers struggling with bad addresses and deliverability, AccuList® suggests three remedial steps that go beyond standard merge-purge processing and USPS National Change of Address (NCOA) updating.
But first the good news for direct mail fans: The channel’s superior response and ROI lead 58% of marketers to plan expanded investment in direct mail across industries in 2023, according to a recent survey by Lob and Comperemedia. The bad news: 32% of marketers still worry about achieving response goals because of “bad address data.”
So what can mailers do to cure this “bad address” problem?
#1 Check Individual Record Quality Before Processing
The initial step AccuList recommends is implementation of a data processing and quality control regimen before merge-purge, hygiene updating or appending of new data, whether for prospecting files or house files. For example, first and last name on internal and external lists should appear in separate fields, along with the corresponding postal address in separate columns.
At AccuList, our data experts begin by applying utility programs to individual records before standardizing them to find hidden duplicate or misspelled names, titles and addresses, or other deliverability issues. Next, we use the USPS Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) certification on individual records to verify that each address matches with the right zip code and delivery route.
#2 Correct for Multiple Deliverability Issues
The second step is to update mail files for multiple potential address and deliverability issues. Mailing files should be:
1) devoid of house file do-not-mail requests;
2) matched against DMAchoice (the Association of National Advertisers—ANA—mail preference service);
3) updated against USPS NCOA to meet Move Update requirements;
4) address-corrected to meet USPS Delivery Point Verification (DPV) standards; and
5) run against other public source databases for records not found with NCOA, such as deceased or prison addresses.
#3 Go Beyond NCOA
Because the USPS FASTforward or NCOALink represent only a portion of total US movers, a third step is to initiate more advanced mover hygiene. At AccuList, we also access the most comprehensive public and private “Mover” databases commercially available to fill in the gaps. We can then identify a much greater number of postal addresses that are verified as Deliverable or Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA).
In fact, this advanced hygiene allows us to identify up to twice the number of address changes versus matching addresses on the NCOA database. And we can not only confirm if the intended recipient is no longer at that address but help find the new address by comparing real-time information.
Via these extra data processing steps, marketers can eliminate duplicate names and addresses, avoid offending those who do not want unsolicited mail, reduce undeliverable mail and wasted postage, and earn postal discounts. An important “byproduct” of this process for prospecting mail is the identification of “multi-buyers.” You can mail them a second time, absolutely free, subject to list owner approval of your mail date and creative!
Although economic growth and jobs data are strong at the start of the year, many AccuList® fundraising clients express anxiety about the impact on charitable giving of higher inflation or even recession later in 2023.
Here’s the advice from nonprofit veterans: Stay the course and avoid the temptation to cut back on direct mail or digital marketing. When fundraisers reduce the channels and frequency of donor requests, they cut opportunities for giving and erode long-term connections.