Pull that List: Donor Management Tips and Tricks

An email marketing campaign or direct mail piece can’t succeed without a great list. And putting together that list is often one of the most loathed tasks—especially when there are various people with their hands in the project.

One of our readers recently reached out asking about ways to better streamline the list-pulling process. Whether that list is for a fundraising ask, special event happening or just to keep your constituents in the know, make sure you’re doing it right. Follow these tips to make list-pulling a little less painful.

Repeat After Me: Segmentation IS Your Best Friend

Segmentation isn’t scary. It might sound scary, but it really isn’t. In it’s simplest, most basic form, segmentation just means you put your constituents into the right lists where they belong. It also means separating out donors by their giving patterns. This will help maximize each mailing.

Steven Shattuck shared his segmentation theory with us for our Nonprofit Hub Magazine where he suggested four lists for your donor database: new donors at or below your average give amount, returning donors at or above your average give amount, new donors above your average giving amount and returning donors above the average gift amount.

Your organization needs to take the time to segment those lists. I’m guilty of neglecting lists; we all are. Small staff size means you’re often running around at superhero speed and putting off things that aren’t urgent. You have to make time to update your lists. Put constituents in the right lists and you’ll save yourself so much time in the future. Plus, updated and current lists make your donors happy because they aren’t receiving irrelevant mailings. Keeping donors happy is, after all, one of the main goals.

Have a Process. Know the Process. Repeat.

It’s not enough for you to be an expert at segmentation and donor management. Your entire team needs to know how you’re pulling the lists. Education is key.

For example, if you have multiple people adding prospects to your list, they should be entering them in the same way. If one person enters in the state “Neb” and another enters “NE” you’ll need to reconcile the difference eventually. Make the list easily mailable by entering addresses the way you would address an envelope, and entering names the way your constituents want to be addressed.

If you’re using donor management software, which I would highly recommend, it should make your list pulling process easier. There’s still a process you’ll need to follow and know how to manage.

Make a List, and Check it Twice

Unfortunately, the process of updating lists never stops. Before sending out a mailing, double check that you have the right people and everybody is included (even if you’ve been doing a killer job at keeping it updated!). Then, make sure you’re performing regular maintenance to the lists. This could also include sending out surveys or user preference updates. If you’re giving the people what they want, your chances of success with a mailing increase exponentially.

There isn’t an easy way to put together a list, especially if you’re dealing with thousands of people. By following this advice and staying up to date, you’ll save some precious time, and next time you’re in a hurry for a list, you’ll be able to easily access the right people for the job.

These quick tips are just the beginning. Stay tuned next week for a checklist you can use the next time you’re pulling lists.

Do you have a topic you need help with or would like us to write about? Drop us a line at info@nonprofithub.org.

  • disqus_QCQYZveeHl

    what about segmenting by interest?

    • Absolutely! Segmenting by interests can be beneficial for some organizations, especially if the appeal you’re making would be beneficial to different interest groups. You can take it a step further and segment by interests, and then take those interest groups and segment by Steven’s theory above.