Public Media Policybase

DEI recommendations for mailing list guidelines

By Catherine Harvanko

After stations’ list practices exploded as a political issue, an organization of public radio fundraisers, the Development Exchange, issued this advice written by the associate director of its Center for Membership Support.

Comments

The value of members acquired by mail cannot be disputed. Members acquired by mail have better first-year and multi-year renewal rates than those members acquired by on-air or telemarketing. DEI continues to strongly recommend that stations develop and maintain aggressive direct mail donor acquisition campaigns as part of a balanced fundraising strategy.

Despite the recent controversy surrounding list trades, do not stop trading your list. I recommend that you do trade your mailing list, but I caution you to be very selective about with whom you trade lists. Your list is very valuable, so guard it closely. Use of your list should be carefully controlled.

Your station may have a policy of not trading or selling its list at this time, but make sure that the actions you take now leave you room to keep your options open in case fundraising needs change in the future.

Developing your station’s list policy

If you don’t have a formal station policy concerning list trades, the rental of your own list, and the lists that your organization will rent, develop that policy now, put it in writing, and share it with the entire staff at your station and your board or licensee.

Once you have a policy, make sure it is one that you would feel comfortable sharing with anyone.

  • In order for a donor to have full confidence and trust in your organization, you must respect the donor’s privacy.If you trade and/or rent your mailing list, make it clear to your members that you do so, and explain to them how they can request that their name not be exchanged or rented.
  • You may want to exchange names with, or rent your names to, only other bona fide 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. DEI recommends that you do not rent your list to or exchange names with political candidates, partisan political organizations, or organizations that spend more than 30% of their time and money on lobbying. Even though it may be legal to use these lists, it may not be worth the risk of negative public perception.
  • DEI recommends that you do not rent names from political candidates, partisan political organizations, or organizations that spend more than 30% of their time and money on lobbying. Even though it may be legal to rent these lists, it may not be worth the risk of negative public perception. Although stations are unlikely to violate IRS requirements by renting lists from a political party, the public may perceive the practice as a form of lobbying, making political contributions or supporting specific candidates. There are many other productive prospect lists to use, therefore I recommend that you avoid the political/partisan lists altogether. If you don’t feel comfortable trading names with an organization, then don’t rent their names either.
  • As you develop your mailing list policy, think about the issues you dealt with when you developed your station’s underwriting policy. As you think about which organizations you’ll trade lists with, think about whom you will allow to underwrite. If you do not allow an organization to underwrite, then you should not be renting their list or arranging list trades with them.
  • Consider your policy from the donor’s point of view. Would a donor be offended to receive a mailing from a particular group? Would you be comfortable if your donors knew that you exchanged with or rented names from a particular organization?
  • Consider your policy from your organization’s point of view. Are there legal or tax reasons for not exchanging lists with a particular organization, or for not renting certain lists? Would you appear to break the trust with your listeners by renting or exchanging lists with some organizations? Deny the list to anyone who could either cause the station to violate IRS requirements, or who, in the station’s judgment, could harm its reputation.
  • DEI recommends that each department at the station review membership lists to identify names that may be inappropriate for inclusion in a list that is traded. Once identified, those names should be coded, eliminating them from the list traded.
  • Decisions about how the list is to be handled should be entrusted only to someone who understands what the list is and how sensitive the list can be. A member of senior management should always be involved in key decisions relating to the list.
  • Do not exchange your list for telemarketing purposes or for purposes of contact by e-mail.
  • Is the underwriting department allowed to offer the use of your membership list to underwriters as a value-added incentive to the underwriting contract? If so, you may want to re-think this policy. You may want to restrict this type of use only to organizations with whom you would trade lists.
  • Make sure that your list exchange practices comply will all federal and state laws pertaining to the use of mailing lists by non-profit organizations. Check with your state regulatory agencies, including your state’s Attorney General Office. Furthermore, list exchange practices should comply with all regulations issued by appropriate agencies, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Sample Draft Policy

KXYZ Station Policy on List Exchanges and Rentals

1. KXYZ’s mailing list will be made available only on exchange. KXYZ’s list is not available for rental. KXYZ’s list will only be exchanged with non-profit, 501(c)(3) organizations. KXYZ’s list will not be traded with political candidates, partisan political organizations, or organizations that spend a substantial amount of their time lobbying. The list will not be exchanged with organizations whose purpose or reputation would damage the goodwill and trust between the station and its listeners. The list will not be exchanged or rented for telemarketing or e-mail use.

2. Members will be informed in the member kit, acknowledgement package, and monthly newsletter about how they can prevent their name from being traded.

3. The underwriting department may not offer use of the membership list without the prior consent of the person responsible for membership, the Development Director, and a senior management staff member.

4. The Development Director should review the membership list for station constituencies that may be inappropriate to trade. When list trades are performed, names will be traded on a name-per-name basis for a one-time use only. The Development Director reserves the right to review and approve the mailpiece prior to agreeing to the trade, and changes cannot be made to the mailpiece without getting approval. The organization using KXYZ’s list cannot disclose in any way the source of the names. Each list trade must be accompanied by a signed letter of agreement.

5. Each time the person responsible for membership negotiates a list trade, the Development Director must approve the transaction. If they are the same person, or if the Development Director wishes to approve a questionable exchange, a member of senior management must be consulted.

6. Any member not wanting their name exchanged, and names not appropriate for trading shall be coded in the database as “do not exchange”.

7. This list trade policy will be reviewed by the person responsible for membership, the Development Director, and a member of senior management on a yearly basis.

8. List exchanges will comply with all federal and state laws pertaining to the use of mailing lists by non-profit organizations. Furthermore, list exchanges will comply with all regulations issued by appropriate agencies, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

9. When renting outside mailing lists, KXYZ will not rent or buy names from political candidates, partisan political organizations, or organizations that spend a substantial amount of their time lobbying. Lists will not be rented from organizations whose purpose or reputation would damage the goodwill and trust between the station and its listeners.

10. If KXYZ does not allow an organization to underwrite, KXYZ will not exchange names with or rent names from that organization.

How to work with a list broker

Someone at your station should be assigned to be in charge of the relationship with the list broker. If renting or exchanging of the list is handled by a list broker, a station should impose restrictions on the kinds of parties to whom the list may be rented. Again, the station should retain the ability to deny use of the list to anyone who could either cause the station to violate IRS requirements, or who, in the station’s judgment, would harm its reputation. All list exchanges and rentals must be approved in advance. Brokers should be bound in writing to comply with the station’s list trade policy.

Your list broker should provide to you on a regular basis a report that includes an update on the usage of your list and list trade balances. Read this report and monitor activities closely.

How to trade mailing lists

  • Tell members in your newsletter, program guide and/or acknowledgment packet how they can let you know they don’t want their name traded. Here’s sample language: “Occasionally we make our member names available to other organizations in which we think you may have an interest. If you do not want your name made available, please call us at (xxx) xxx-xxxx or write to us at KXYZ station, 123 Main Street, Anytown, 12345. In general if you want to reduce the amount of mail that you receive, you may also contact the Direct Marketing Association at 212-768-7277, Mail Preference Service, PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735.”
  • Review the various constituencies within your membership file, for some of these names may not be appropriate for trading purposes. Make sure that any sensitive names in your database are flagged as “do not exchange”. Exclude any records of people who have requested that their name not be exchanged.
  • Get your list trade agreement in writing. Trade names on a name-per-name basis for a one-time use only. Reserve the right to review and approve the other organization’s mailpiece prior to agreeing to the trade, and don’t allow the organization to change the mailpiece without getting your approval. Make it very clear that the other organization cannot disclose in any way the source of the names unless you give them permission to do so. Here’s sample language:

    “A condition of exchanging names is that you do not mention (station name) in your mailing or disclose that you received names from (station name).”

    “It is agreed that both parties to the list trade will safeguard the source of these names, the solicitation will be mailed at an agreed upon date, and the names and addresses will be returned upon completion of the one-time project.”

  • If your station is unwilling to trade its member names, you may want to trade underwriting spots for another organization’s list. For example, you may want 15,000 names from the local art museum. If you rented those names, a typical price would be $80 per thousand names. So, you would provide the museum with $1,200 worth of underwriting in exchange for a one-time use of their list.
  • Whenever you provide your member list on exchange, put the names and addresses of your membership staff in your list as “seed” or “decoy” names. That way you can monitor how and when an organization uses your list.
  • All those involved with a list transaction (membership staff, mailhouse, list broker, etc.) should be responsible for the proper use of list data and should take appropriate measures to assure against unauthorized access, alteration, or dissemination of list data. Those who have access to such data should agree in advance to use the data only in an authorized manner.
  • For each list that is to be rented, sold, or exchanged, The Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference Service name-removal list should be used. Names found on such suppression lists should not be transferred except for suppression purposes. To use this suppression list, contact your mailhouse or call the MPS Manager at The Direct Marketing Association at (202) 955-5030. Mail Preference Service (MPS) is a file of consumers who have requested that they receive less advertising mail at home. Consumers register with MPS by providing their name and address to The Direct Marketing Association. Consumers learn about the availability of the service through state and local consumer agencies and print and broadcast media. If a consumer wants their name added to this suppression service, they should contact the Direct Marketing Association at 212-768-7277, Mail Preference Service, PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735.

For each list trade and rental transaction, use a List Exchange Agreement and a Mailing List Trade Request Form.

Sample List Exchange Agreement for (LIST OWNER):

Upon approval of the mail date, mail sample, and signature below, (MAILER) agrees to following conditions:

1. The (LIST OWNER) is exchanging its list with (MAILER) on a one-name for one-name basis.

2.(MAILER) agrees that it will not disclose, transfer, duplicate, reproduce, or retain any portion of the list in any form or manner, nor permit any third party, agent, employee, or contractor and their respective agents and employees to do so, except those who become (MAILER’s) members or subscribers as a result of this mailing.

3.(MAILER) agrees that names furnished will not be used for telephone solicitation of any kind.

4.(MAILER) assures that the one-time use of the list shall be limited exclusively to the specific offer or service as described in the mailing sample submitted in conjunction with this Agreement. (LIST OWNER) shall have the ability to withhold permission for any reason it deems appropriate. (MAILER) is allowed to use the list for a single mailing only.

5.(MAILER) may not enhance their house file or any other file by using the names, addresses, or any other information, whether specific or inferred, from the list-owner list. Retention of the list-owner list for coding enhancements, analysis, or any other purpose is prohibited.

6.(MAILER) agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the (LIST OWNER) from any and all claims, damages, losses or expenses including attorney’s fees, however incurred, which are occasioned by the use of the list.

7. It is understood and agreed that the list has been and will be monitored to prevent improper and unauthorized use. The (MAILER) may not employ any method to detect decoy names or alter or eliminate decoys.

8.(MAILER) agrees not to disclose the origin of the list, for any reason or in any manner. We request that you refer anyone who does not wish to receive direct mail to call or write the Direct Marketing Association at 212-768-7277, Mail Preference Service, PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735.

______________________________

(MAILER) Authorized Signature

Date __________________________

Use the following Mailing List Trade Request Form to request the use of another non-profit’s mailing list.

WXYZ PUBLIC RADIO
MAILING LIST TRADE REQUEST FORM

Request made by: Joe Smith, Membership Manager, WXYZ (612) 666-8888
Address: 123 Main Street, Anytown, NM 60006

List request: All active members giving at least $35 in the past 12 monthsNumber of names: 21,000

Zip Codes: 55101-55403; 55406-55407

Date needed: May 1, 1999

List format: Include title, name and address fields. Output on diskette. Label diskette “Names for WAAA Public Radio Spring Mailing”.

Definition of layout: Text-file, comma-delimited format. Include a file layout.

Mail data to: ABC List Processing Company, 567 Elm Street, Anytown, NV 60006

Contact person: Mary Brown (612) 666-7777

****************************

Date disk returned:

Notes:

  • http://www.centurylist.com/ www.centurylist.com

    Your list is very valuable, so guard it closely. Use of your list should be carefully controlled.

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