Right-Sizing Direct Mail Suppression Pays Off in Two Big Ways for KCTS

Date Published
Amy Houke

KCTS 9 is a public television station in Seattle, WA. Their acquisition mail had been seeing declining response rates in recent years and Allegiance Fundraising set out to find out why and reverse the trend.

KCTS had been inadvertently ‘hiding’ from potential members

In working with KCTS to review all file pull instructions, one key finding was that they were inadvertently suppressing many potential donors from receiving their acquisition direct mail pieces. This was evidenced in the size of their suppression file and their extremely low net rate in the merge/purge. It was clear that solving the over-suppression issue would be critical in raising response rates.

Our investigation determined that legacy database queries, a profound lack of documentation about those queries and staff changes all combined to make them hesitant to make big changes to their suppression file pull queries. But they knew something had to change. Their program was suffering because of the over-suppression. Response rates were down and list costs were way up since they had to rent so many names to get to their target mail quantity.

Time for a change

They made the decision to invest the time and effort to correct the problem. Through collaboration with AFG (and a lot of patience!) they investigated enough to get them comfortable with what the new, much smaller suppress file was made up of. They took the leap of faith to use it in their May 2020 acquisition campaign.

The change paid off

KCTS 9 had a strict list budget for the May campaign and because of that, they were concerned that they were not going to be able to afford their target mail qty of 120,000 names. But, due to the much higher name retention that resulted from the right-sizing of their suppression file, KCTS retained 125,563 names in the merge at a net rate of 58% compared to 39% in all of their previous campaigns. In addition, their list rental cost came in well under their established list budget for the campaign.

But most important of all was the impact to results!

Response Rate Up 51%

The May campaign yielded a response rate of 0.59% — an increase of 51% over the fiscal year’s average (.39%)!

Revenue per Thousand Pieces Up 200%

The revenue per thousand pieces mailed for May ($357) was more than double that of the previous May’s campaign ($162)!

Allegiance has the experience, expertise and tools necessary to enhance nonprofit campaigns and bolster support for worthy causes across the country. To learn more, get in touch with us today.

About the Author:
Amy Houke
Media Director, Agency Services

Role at the Company

I am responsible for providing media research and recommendations to AFG clients. I work closely with other AFG team members to assure that prospect list and print recommendations are consistent with the overall strategic and creative direction of each program.

My experience has included media planning for many types of non-profit clients, including public broadcasting stations, animal welfare organizations and food banks.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

Successful fundraising is about getting your organization’s mission into the hearts of your current and prospective donors. My job is to identify your future donors. That comes from a deep understanding of who your current donors are and what they look like. That’s exciting!

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

I enjoy serving in small group leadership and doing local mission work with my church.

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