FAQs – The Basics

FAQs – The Basics

What lists are available?
There are hundreds of lists that work for fundraising offers – but not every list works for every offer! Knowing which lists work for which offer is our expertise. Depending on the focus of your organization and your message, we will tailor list recommendations based on your specific needs and goals.

Can I only order the lists you manage?
We manage some of the best fundraising lists on the market, but we are able to contact other list managers to investigate other lists that are on the open market. Most mailers come to us to develop an entire mail campaign strategy that includes both our managed lists and other lists that are available. At that point, we become your representative list broker and we charge a $1,000 consulting fee up front, which is refunded if you order at least 100,000 names in one year.

How much do lists cost?
Rental rates vary, and adding specific criteria (choosing only women, or names in a certain area, for example) will add additional charges. The basic charge for a list is called its “base rate”. That’s the rate charged if you only take a portion of the full file, without adding any additional criteria. Most rental lists cost from $70/m (per thousand names) to $100/m, with selection criteria fees adding anywhere from $5/m to $25/m.
If your organization already has a donor file, and you want to mail to another organization’s list, they may be interested in exchanging lists with you. Exchanges are on a name-for-name basis. That is, if you receive 5,000 names from an organization, you agree to let them mail to 5,000 of your organization’s donors at a future date usually determined by when the other organization is planning on mailing.  If you have a mailing list but do not choose to make it available to others, there is a penalty of anywhere from an average of $25 or more per thousand added on to the base rate.  The theory is that it isn’t equitable to use others lists without those users having the benefit of using yours.
While no money changes hands between organizations in an exchange transaction, we charge a brokerage “exchange fee” to the mailer to cover the arrangement as well as our administrative expenses and to keep an exchange ledger for the purpose of tracking these transactions.

How are you compensated?

We are compensated with either the aforementioned exchange fee or in the case of rental orders by standard brokerage commissions which are 20% of the base rental price. Commissions and exchange fees are not charged until orders are placed.

Are there limitations to what I can do with a list once I get it?
Yes. When you rent a list, the terms, unless negotiated otherwise up front, require that you use it once – it can’t be saved or copied for any reason. You are not buying the list as that is the sole property of the listowner organization.  Lists will be shipped from the service bureaus where they are fulfilled to the merge purge, service bureau or letter shop that you designate. For security and privacy, no list can be delivered directly to the mailer. The lists we’d recommend are marketed for direct mail purposes only. No telemarketing or emails are allowed..  Prior to beginning the process you need to be fully aware of what is considered appropriate use.  Brokers request you to sign a general list rental agreement that affirms that you understand the general rules of use.  Individual list owners will also require that you review and sign a specific agreement for the list that they own.

You should be fully aware of all standards before embarking on an acquisition project. You can find industry standard list standards at the DMAW website here – http://www.dmaw.org/list-standards/.

What’s a “minimum”?
You’ll notice a field on our data cards that says “minimum”. It means the smallest order allowed on an individual list – in most cases 5,000 names. To really get a sense of whether acquisition works for your organization,  you should consider a mailing of at least 50,000 names with a number of lists to get a statistically significant sampling for your mail plan from a variety of list sources.

Can I reach a minimum by ordering smaller quantities from a number of lists?
No, minimums are applied to each individual list order.

What would you need from me to get started?
If you’d like to be contacted by a Names in the News broker, please fill out our client information form to give us an idea of your needs.

With that information, and a copy of the package you want to mail, along with any past statistics and your expected metrics, we can draw up a list plan for your review. List owners will want to approve the package you’re mailing, so we’ll need to send them a sample when asking if they will allow your organization to mail to their list. Copy needs to include inner and outer envelopes, response form, letter, and anything else being mailed (buck slip, survey, labels, any front end premium as an example).  If your copy changes during the list clearance process you need to advise your broker immediately as any use is contingent on having the actual sample that you intend to mail.  Mailing lists are “seeded” to monitor proper use of their list, so it is critical to honor any list rental agreements

You will also need to know where you will be doing a merge/purge which is the process that typically includes removing duplicate individuals or households, addresses are checked against the National Change of Address database, and the address formatting is standardized. We can put you in touch with companies that specialize in this process and can guide you through that aspect of your acquisition mailing.

You may also want to check our list recommendations to see which of our managed lists would be recommended for your general market.

Can you manage my list?
Yes! With our strong industry relationships and reputation, Names in the News is best equipped to help market your list to other organizations and list brokers. We can help you create an annual budget for list rental income to help add to your organization’s bottom line.

How quickly can I get a list?
It depends on the list, but two weeks is a reasonable timetable to use, though chances are it may happen more quickly (and of course, there are the exceptions that can make the process longer). As soon as the list owner approves your request, the necessary forms are completed and prepayment, if required, is received, a list can be ordered and shipped to an industry recognized service bureau within 72 hours.  Note this timeframe accounts for already developed copy that is ready to be distributed.

However, when considering time for the entire project from concept through mail drop, most organizations plan at least 3 months ahead of when they want to mail.  The reason being is that creative needs to be finalized (final artwork and final copy) before the list clearance process can begin.  If you are a first time mailer you will often need to also sign list rental agreements, arrange for print production, determine a merge purge vendor, a merge purge service bureau and letter shop (facility that assembles and mails package).  You will also need to consider data pulls of your house file and “do not mail files” for suppression purposes. If you are a first time mailer and your budget allows, you should consider hiring a fundraising consultant who can guide you through the entire process and see if an acquisition mailing is appropriate given your organizational objectives.

How do you help me find the best list for my market audience?
Every mailer is different. Names in the News starts by looking at what lists have worked for similar mailers in your market. Then we further refine by assessing what type of package you’ll be offering (e.g., a premium offer vs. a mission-based piece). Of course, we will also look specifically at your organization and package to identify any particulars that might suggest mailing to one type of list or another.  If you’ve mailed in the past we prefer to review your past data in order to give you our best recommendation and will keep that information strictly confidential.

What are the key metrics you use to assess and project performance?
Names in the News creates mailplans that are tailored to your needs and to the goals of your organization. Whichever metric you use or addresses your goals, we will include and sort by in our plans, whether it’s return rate, net cost per donor, cost per dollar raised, or even 12 month (long-term) net revenue.

What is a good response rate for a mailing?
This is dependent on a variety of factors. What market are you in? Do you mail a premium or mission-based package, or both? How many pieces do you mail per mailing/year? Are you a national or regional mailer? Considering all these factors and more, Names in the News will help put your results in perspective. One trend noted throughout the market, however, is that return rates have been falling over the past decade.  In the distant past the aim was to get a 1% response rate.  Nowadays the overall average flutters around a .5% response rate.  Again there are many factors to this general metric and it is highly influenced by both the current economy, the mailer market, and the perceived value of your organization at the moment you are in the mail.

Is there a best time of year to mail?
The best time to mail varies by program, offer and also what is currently happening societally. That being said, generally there is often increased performance, especially in higher average gifts, during the holiday season and softer performance in the Spring and Summer. This is highly dependent though on offers and mailer markets.  Names in the News can help you test mail timing to be sure you’re not missing out on opportunities.

Do you provide analytic reporting?

We have an onsite fulltime analyst who works directly with our brokers to develop data driven mail plans and we are able to include projections in most mail plans.  We offer a suite of analytic reporting for clients that have an ongoing acquisition program with robust list histories and strategic plans that require that level of service and review.

Ready to start?
Please fill out our client information form and a Names in the News representative will contact you within the next business day.  If you are a seasoned mailer and interested in a list or performance audit please note that in the comments section of the form.