• Donor Acquisition Mailings Differ from Donor Renewal Mailings

From The Expert Fundraiser, Alan Sharpe

Your job as a direct mail fundraiser is to make new friends every and keep them for as long as possible. And to do that you need two kinds of letter, acquisition and renewal. Understand the differences between these two letters and you'll improve your results.

PURPOSE
Acquisition mailings are designed to persuade non- donors to mail you their first gift. They aim to acquire donors.

Renewal mailings are designed to encourage past donors to give again. Their aim is to renew, or re- solicit, existing donors.

AUDIENCE
Acquisition mailings are mailed to strangers.
Renewal mailings are mailed to friends.

COST
Acquisition mailings tend to be inexpensive, costing anywhere from $0.50 to $1.00 a piece.

Renewal mailings tend to be more expensive, costing anywhere from $0.75 to $7.00 a piece.

PERSONALIZATION
Acquisition mailings, to keep costs down, tend to be one-size fits-all. They rarely involve any personalization beyond the salutation.

Renewal mailings tend to be more involved, and may include personalized salutations, personalized ask strings based on the donor's previous giving levels and personalization in the body of the letter.

SEGMENTATION
Acquisition mailings are usually mailed to everyone on a prospect list.

Renewal mailings are usually segmented so that each donor segment in a house list (monthly donors, major donors, lapsed donors, first-time donors) gets a different package.

PREMIUMS
Acquisition mailings often include premiums (personalized note pads, return address labels, greeting cards).

Renewal mailings rely less on premiums. FREQUENCY
Acquisition mailings are mailed only a few times a year (somewhere between one and four times a year).

Renewal mailings are mailed around six times a year and as often as 12 times a year.

RESPONSE RATES
Acquisition mailings tend to generate acceptable response rates of between 0.5% and 2.5%.

Renewal mailings tend to generate acceptable response rates of between 6% and 12%, sometimes as high as 20%.

NET-EFFECTIVENESS
Acquisition mailings usually lose money (but gain donors).

Renewal mailings almost always generate a net return.

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