Making a Mailing List |

Making a Non Profit Mailing List

When launching a new organization or starting a new initiative, creating a mailing list can be one of the hardest steps. Here’s an inside look at how data companies how organizations build a solid mailing list.

Non Profit Mailing List First Steps:

1. A dataset: Before a mailing list can be created,  the organization must have a dataset. It should include the donor names, addresses and giving histories. The number and dollar amounts of donors’ gifts are important information!

New organizations might not have their own data, but they usually start building their own lists with the help of board members, partnering organizations, or community organizations such as a community foundation or United Way.  They can also rent a “prospecting list,” as explained below.

2. Clean your data: A good data company will start with running a “dupe check” to identify any duplicate donor records. Donors who appear more than once in the database will receive more than one copy of every mailing. Mailing duplicates is not only frustrating for donors, but also adds unnecessary expenses for campaigns. Your list should also be checked against the We also check National Change of Address (NCOA) database. If an organization is working with an old list or names collected from board members’ Christmas card lists, some information has likely changed.

3. Rent lists to grow: Some nonprofits rent “prospecting lists” from a list broker. Their goal is to reach out to supporters who haven’t donated yet. These lists are essentially other nonprofit donor databases developed during previous fundraising campaigns. For example, a food bank could rent a successful list used by a homeless shelter. If a client decides to build a mailing list from more than one dataset, the data company should run a “merge purge.” Most likely, there will be overlap between the lists, since donors often give to more than one organization.Merge-purges  find and delete duplicate records.

Making a mailing list:

1. Segment Data: To create a mailing list from a donor dataset, first “segment,” or divide, the dataset into different categories of donors. Then assign a “mail code” to each category. For example, code donors who made one contribution in the last year separately from donors who made more than one contribution. You can also segment the dataset by contribution amounts – such as 0-$50, $50-$200, and more than $200.

2. Flag records: You should flag the records of donors who you don’t want to receive the appeal. Donors marked as deceased or donors who have asked to be removed from the mailing list are usually flagged. Sometimes, organizations flag other types of records, such as suppressing major donors from a mailing aimed at under $50 donors.

3. Target donors: Next, discuss with the exactly which donors you want to reach. Nonprofits usually don’t want to mail every donor in the database at once. Once the types of donors are selected, put a list of mail codes together that represent those “segments” of the dataset. This is also a good time to choose which “suppressions” you want to exclude from the mailing list.

4. Experience counts: To build a mailing list, “pull” the donor records from the mail codes selected and “suppress” the records with the flags that were excluded. It is recommended that this step of the process be carried out by an experienced programmer. Otherwise, it would be easy to accidentally create duplicate records. For example, a donor might be included in one mail code for contributing twice last year and a different mail code for contributing once this year. Always prioritize the mail codes to make sure that each donor record is only pulled once.

Want to learn more about mailing list management? Schedule a Julep demo today!