Lessons We’ve Learned for Marketing to Your Nonprofit Donor Database

When you’re talking about marketing to your donor database it isn’t always about response rates, but response does play a big factor in your cost per acquisition and return on investment. It’s all about using your marketing dollars wisely and your best return comes from your database of existing donors.

To amplify that point, as we noted in “Typical Response Rates for Direct Marketing Efforts,” the 2015 DMA survey found response rates for telemarketing with house lists was 9–10%. Our own experience here at CampaignNow is 10–20% with house lists but only 4–8% with prospect lists. That’s a huge difference that clearly says that your donor database is an extremely valuable asset.

Given that, here are the key lessons we’ve learned for marketing to that database.

Grow and Nurture Your House List

It sounds a bit like gardening—growing and nurturing—and it’s not that dissimilar. If the house list provides your best response rates, it needs your care and attention. Keeping up to date with information on your donors, their history, and their contact information is vital to establishing a personal relationship with each and every donor.

Keep Your Database Up-to-Date

You may not be able to reach out to every donor on a regular basis to learn about changing circumstances, moves, etc. But you can use a National Change of Address (NCOA) update to make sure you have the latest contact information for your house list. People move, so make sure you keep up with them. 

Driven Communication

I suggest reviewing our blog post titled “Why Donors Give.” It’s all about acting from the heart or from the head. That includes personal experience, social influence, making a difference, and personal benefit. You need to address all these with your communication program across all your channels: website, social media, telephone, direct mail. This helps nurture that donor and grow your relationship. But it all starts with your database which determines your ability to even find the donor.

Integrated Systems

If you’re not using the right tools, any job can become much more challenging than it needs to be. We wrote about “The Best Online Marketing Software for Nonprofits” earlier. We recommended Marketo, HubSpot, and Salesforce. Read the full blog post to find out more, along with several case studies about how they are working for other nonprofits. Also see our article “A Rundown of the Best Nonprofit Fundraising Software.” 

The point is, make sure you acquire the best software for your organization. You need the best tools available to help fund your organization. But the task doesn’t end when you acquire the software. You also need to have everyone trained and actually using the software to grow your fundraising through enhanced marketing. Just installing it doesn’t get it done. Training and using correctly it is critical.

Measure Your Performance

HubSpot has a great blog post titled “The Most Important Tool in Every Nonprofit’s Fundraising Toolbox.” That tool is measurement. Bottom line, measurement helps you set realistic performance goals. This is then followed by determining your success or failure, allocating funds and effort to achieve the best return, justifying further investment, and making needed adjustments.

Tap Campaign Now’s Experience and Expertise

Those are a few of the lessons we’ve learned over many years of working with our clients in marketing to their donor databases. We can apply that expertise and experience to your marketing challenges as well. 

Give us a call and let's discuss how we can help.

Contact us at (855) 329-4327 or info@campaignnowonline.com.

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John Connors

John Connors

John is a passionate patriot and business owner. He launched Campaign Now in 2008 to help free-market oriented, American organizations increase their reach and achieve important results. When he’s not strategizing growth plans with clients, you can find him sharpening his history chops, playing tennis in the Texas heat, or spending time with family.


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