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  Mailing Lists are Best Served Fresh Reporting

Mailing Lists Best Served FreshMany mailing lists are generated using various Development Information System address listing reports.

The Education report pulls based on Education criteria, such as degree, faculty, college etc.
The Auxiliary selection report uses auxiliary codes and is helpful for extracting donors from the Development Information System based on event attendance or affiliations within the university.

The types of mail vary greatly also from magazines and newsletters to event invitations.

Regardless of the type of mailing or the report used to prepare the mailing list, it is important to remember a few things when sending out a mailing.

Always Use a Fresh Extract from Development Information System

Although the temptation to use a list that was prepared for another mailing in the past can be great, there are many reasons why it is important to always use a fresh list.

When lists are created, restriction and other codes codes are taken in consideration and are unique to the type of mailing being sent out. If the mailing is for a solicitation then the list does not contain people who do not wish to be solicited. It may however contain people who do not wish to receive any magazines or newsletters.

If the list is reused a few weeks or even a month or two later for a magazine mailing, then people who have requested not to be sent magazines will be delivered one and be confused as to why their request was not honoured by the University.

In the space of a month or two addresses can become inactive (due to death, the person moves etc…)

Often mail comes back to the university indicating the recipient has passed away or moved. If we are provided with the new address it is immediately put into the person’s record. If no address is provided, the record is marked as having mail returned and will not appear on any lists until a new address is found and mail can again be sent to the graduate or donor.

Using a fresh list ensures that you are not mailing to people who don’t want the type of mail you are sending, that you are mailing to the right address or are not sending mail to someone who is deceased.

Always Include the Development Information System ID on the Mailing Label

The Development Information System id is a unique number that everyone on the database has. When mail is returned it allows the records department to quickly access the correct record to make sure that it is coded promptly or that the address can be changed. This ensures that mail is not sent out to people with inactive addresses and those who are recently deceased.

If the Development Information System id is not included on the mailing label certain records (those with common names or companies with many subsidiaries on the database) can be hard to locate and the new information is in danger of not being put into the correct record.

The Costs Involved

You can clearly see that sending out mail to addresses that are not valid costs your department money in wasted postage.

The records department at the Division of University Advancement works very hard to ensure that data quality is high so that your mailings reach more people and that you get less mail returns. In fact the postal service charges the University for sending back mail with bad addresses on it. So by using fresh lists you can save the University quite a bit of money in postage.

Money is not the only cost involved. The time that records staff spend on looking up records that have already been coded or have had a new address appended to them can be better spent on other projects that enhance the data quality of Development Information System.

If mailing lists are reused, then the changes that have been made to the records due to returned mail, or notification from the donors and alumni themselves, in other words the endeavours of the records staff, are wasted.

In addition, when Development Information System numbers are missing from labels it costs the records department valuable time in tracking down the correct record where they could be better spending their time on other projects.

The last and perhaps best reason to use fresh mailing lists is the donors and alumni themselves.

Many people can become frustrated by having to inform the university more than once that their address has changed or that a relative is deceased.

High data quality and quick response to requests are vital in maintaining a good relationship with the institution’s donors and alumni.

Contributed by …
Chris Waller
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