Firm Takes Names From Survey/Coupon Database so Nonprofits Can Find Donors

List brokerage company ICOM Information & Communications Inc., Toronto, is using its TargetSource database to help several nonprofit organizations conduct successful direct mailing campaigns.

The database — compiled through a survey ICOM sends to 25 million homes every six months — asks recipients to identify a number of interests ranging from which household products and medicines they use to if they use computers. As an incentive, respondents receive coupons from sponsoring companies.

For nonprofits, the survey contains a section in which participants are asked to identify which social issue they support financially. Choices include animal welfare, environmental wildlife, political, conservative/liberal, arts or cultural, children's causes, health, religious and veteran's causes. Within ICOM's 18 million name database are 10.5 million names of people who donate to the causes listed in its survey. According to account manager John Pahmer, ICOM is working with 100 nonprofit groups and is expecting that number to grow to 300 by the middle of 1999.

“We are becoming much more active in the nonprofit community,” he said. “To better serve them, we can add and delete questions to the survey based on where we feel the marketplace needs more information.”

The Humane Society of the United States, Baltimore, a 40-year-old nonprofit organization that promotes the ethical treatment of animals, is mailing to more than 1.5 million people a month with names from the TargetSource database. The group has been working with ICOM for the past few months and has seen the responses from its monthly mailings continually grow.

“The quantities of names that we buy from them varies from month to month,” said Tom Mays, general manager of List America, the list brokerage firm that manages the Humane Society's lists. “One month, we may buy 25,000 names. Our most recent purchase of 300,000 from last month was our biggest one yet.”

By using TargetSource, the Humane Society has mailed to more than 9 million people and has had better success compared with any of the other lists it has used in the past.

“I don't know why, but for some reason the lists from TargetSource produce at least 50 percent higher results than the other ones we use,” Mays said. “The lists may be more effective since all of the data is coming straight from the person's home where they are filling out the surveys as opposed to other methods used by companies like accumulating data from various other sources. I just wish they had more names they could give us.”

Along with renting names from its database, ICOM provides modeling services for nonprofit groups to find nondonors within its database that mirror the organization's current file.

“ICOM will take an organization's current donor file and match the demographics of those people to nondonors within the TargetSource database,” Pahmer said. “This allows us to provide them with new prospective donors and others who might be responsive to their cause.”

The cost of using TargetSource varies based on if it's a nonprofit group and the number of added selects. The base rate for nonprofit groups is $60 per thousand names while for-profit groups start at $65 per thousand.

“We understand that money is tight for nonprofits and we do our best to make buying lists as easy as possible for them,” said Catherine McIntyre, general manager of the list and database division at ICOM.

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