CCAH Blog: Industry Voices

Five Things YOU Need to Know Before You Mail Anything

Posted by CCAH Admin on Mar 30, 2010 6:13:00 PM

By Nicola Bach, Director of List Planning Services Department

Being in the industry for almost a decade, I understand that if you're just considering utilizing lists to bring on new donors or member, it can be intimidating process. But it's actually quite simple to get started if you know the lingo.  Here are the top 5 frequently asked questions about mailing lists that you may have thought about but were afraid to ask.

1.  What is a ‘list’ and what is a data card?



  • Many organizations choose to make a selection of their file of donors available for other like-minded organizations to mail to. This listing of names is informally known as a ‘list’.
  • A data card provides information about a given list, the mission of the organization, how many donors are available to mail to, at what cost and if there are any special selection criteria available, such as gender, state selects, ethnicity, age, etc.

2.  Can I purchase a list?

  • Sure! But first, you may want to look for exchanges (exchanges are where you trade files with other organizations on name-for-name basis). That is, if you receive 10,000 names from an organization, you agree to let them mail to 10,000 of your organization’s donors within the same recency and frequency of last gift range.
  • When a list is not available on exchange, an organization might still gain access to it on a rental basis. In this case, the organization pays a predetermined amount for using the names once. Exchanges and rentals are typically contracted for one-time usage.

3.  What is the difference between a list manager and a list broker, aren’t they the same person? twins

  • Nope they’re not! Our in-house List Planning Department works with a variety of list brokers and managers. A list broker assists in recommending lists and helps coordinates access to lists. They keep track of the lists on the market: what’s new, what’s working and what to stay away from!
  • A list manager is often a third party that manages requests for the usage of lists and coordinates delivery of lists to end users. They also help ensure lists are updated and “clean.”
  • Often the list broker and the list manager work for the same company.

4.  What is a multibuyer?

  • A multibuyer is a person who shows up on more than one list. And thus are typically quite responsive prospects.  In addition, because they figure on more than one list, organizations can mail them as often as they appear on lists – for example, if an individual is on three lists that you purchase or exchange for, this person can be prospected to three times, two of these times at no additional cost.

5. How do I find new lists to test to my file?

  • Well, if you’re one of our clients, you already get the added benefit of our long standing partnerships with list brokers for test ideas, AND since planning is centralized for all our clients we know what’s working for which organization and why. We use this knowledge to help inform and cross-pollinate test ideas for all our clients and often discover under-used or overlooked list markets.

If you’re not yet a client, take our FREE list health challenge and let us zero in on your targets to expand your donor/member base!

Topics: nonprofit fundraising, direct marketing, nonprofit consulting, direct mail, strategy planning and tracking