CCAH Blog: Industry Voices

When Sharing Pays Off: Finding Donors through Co-ops

Posted by CCAH Admin on Sep 21, 2010 12:01:00 PM

sharing informationBy Minyi Berlan, List Planning Services

In today’s list market you can probably find a list for just about any demographic or psychographic profile you’re looking for. However, with new donor acquisition, you might find that lifestyle identification alone is sometimes not a sufficient indicator of whether someone will be interested enough to donate to or join your organization. This is because their charitable actions might matter more, and that goes back to looking at the recency, frequency, and monetary value (RFM) of a potential donor or member:

•    Recency: When was the last time the prospective donor gave a gift or joined an organization similar to yours?

•    Frequency: How often do they donate and to how many organizations?

•    Monetary Value: How much do they give?

And to get to this type of information for prospective new donors, many nonprofits are finding value in joining cooperative databases, pooling their donor knowledge with those of other organizations. Within cooperatives, members provide regular transactional updates so that everyone can benefit from up-to-date RFM information. The information is compiled by the cooperative, which then, either through modeling or profiling, identifies the best prospective donor/member matches for each organization, without disclosing individual donor transactions, protecting both the donor and contributing member organization.

One of the first questions we are typically asked by clients is whether their organization’s unique donor names will be protected from usage. The answer from the co-ops we work with has been a resounding yes. The truth is, these single giver names (which are often less than 1% of an organization’s database) are not the names co-ops are interested in.

Experience shows that the people who give to multiple organizations are far more receptive to learning about various solutions to solving the issues they care about; and these are the supporters we all really love and want more of on our own files

Currently there are two types of co-ops nonprofits can join: purely nonprofit co-ops or commercial co-ops that include both nonprofits and commercial contributors such as magazines and catalogs. Traditional nonprofit co-ops include Target Analytics and Donorbase, while on the commercial side; Abacus, Wiland, and I-Behavior have opened their historically commercial co-ops to include nonprofits.


We encourage our clients to test different co-ops with an eye toward the cost-per-donor or member. Top co-op models should outperform a typical campaign’s average metrics and that’s what we look for when advising our clients on whether to continue, tweak, or abandon a co-op model.

If you would like more information on the right data cooperative for your organization or would like to share your experience, we would love to hear from you. Write a comment below or contact us privately.

Topics: direct marketing, supporter loyalty, nonprofit consulting, direct mail