33% Increase in New Donors for Non-Profit via Predictive Modeling

The Problem

A California non-profit with strong regional presence had been running a new donor acquisition campaign, targeting prospects that meet certain demographic criteria such as age, income, and geography. Although historically quite effective, results were slipping and response rates had fallen below DMA benchmarks*. Most importantly, the program is near the point of just barely breaking even.
*Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Reports, 2016

The Solution

Propelo Media worked with the Client organization and developed a customized predictive donor model (Predictive Modeling). Simply put, we identified attributes of responders (and also non-responders, as a control group), and used these to forecast the Client’s next likely donor group. There are over 1,500 attributes that we may be able to identify, and common traits observed were recorded.

Targeting - Predictive Modeling
We ranked these targets into 10 groups of roughly equal size (deciles), based on their likelihood of response. The non-profit organization targeted the top two deciles. In addition to the new targeting strategy, Propelo Media also revamped the creative and refocused the Client’s call to action.  Our copywriting team introduced the importance of behavioral psychology that typically impacts the prospects when they pick up a mail piece, what they usually do immediately after, and how to best keep the direct mail piece relevant in their minds. Over 80,000 prospects were targeted with our omni-channel direct marketing campaign. We launched a combination of a direct mail packet, augmented with email, social media, and mobile display ads, which was an effective tool to “nudge prospects to a yes,” in lieu of multiple mailings sequences.



New donor acquisition increased by 33%. Response rates from the acquisition campaign increased from 1.81% to 2.40%.


Average gift increased by 13.2%. Although not the main goal of the campaign, the improved targeting made the overall campaign more cost effective.


Immediate Return on Investment was 167%. Since the average Lifetime Value (LTV) of each donor is about $600, ROI over time will be even greater.

Postage savings of over $28,000. The Client’s traditional direct mail campaign typically involves multiple mailings to the same prospects to drive home the message. The omni-channel digital integration helped reinforce the message without spending another penny on postage, freeing the budget to reach more prospects.


Increased digital marketing increased social engagement by over 211%. The digital/social media augmentation increased the number of follows, likes, shares, mentions, and comments online.

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