Sightsavers Reactivates Lapsed Donors With Acxiom


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Sightsavers International, the visionary charity, is working with Acxiom to reduce direct mail wastage and increase its campaign return on investment (ROI).

Sightsavers had amassed a significant database of ‘lapsed’ cash donors whom they had mailed “en masse” in an attempt to reactivate giving. However, the age and sheer volume of this dataset meant it was becoming increasingly uneconomical to continue mailing in this way.

Donor attrition is an important issue to any charity and over recent years, Sightsavers has accumulated an ever increasing volume of lapsed cash donors. The charity wanted, therefore, to understand more about its lapsed givers, their propensity to respond to DM and how to most effectively segment this group.

In order to identify the factors that would best determine the giving propensity of dormant supporters, Acxiom and Sightsaver’s built a “lapsed cash donor” model. The results of this process were then used to score previous donors and establish a cut-off point, below which it would be uneconomical to mail. But first, Acxiom needed to identify the key datasets that drive response for Sightsavers. By analysing data from a previous Christmas campaign, it was possible to assess both the mailed universe and the responder data. Using a combination of CHAID and regression analysis, eight variables were identified that best predicted response. The variables were selected both from Sightsavers’ own transactional data and Acxiom’s mInfoBase™ Lifestyle Universe (ILU) database which provided extensive demographic and behavioural insight.

By combining the probability values of the 8 key variables, Acxiom was able to build a logistic regression model for Sightsavers which was used to predict those past supporters most and least likely to respond to future mailing campaigns.

Armed with this information, Acxiom then validated the performance of the model in a trial before using it on a live campaign. Tests on a mailing file of over 95,000 donors, showed a 120% uplift on ROI when the scoring system was implemented.

This benchmarking project gave Sightsavers the confidence that the model could deliver significant cost savings and improve campaign effectiveness. When implemented in a live campaign, Sightsavers was able to suppress 20,000 low scoring individuals, culminating in a mailing file of around 80,000. This, in turn, represented a cost saving of £7,500 for the charity, whilst also achieving a higher ROI. Application to subsequent mailings has also delivered savings of over
£20,000 – all of which can be reinvested in future fundraising campaigns.

A spokesperson at Sightsavers International comments, “This project was the first of its kind for our charity and its success has introduced the potential for greater use of data intelligence right across our DM programme. We’ve been delighted with the results from this model, which, over time, will have a significant impact on our mailing programme. Its success has now prompted us to work with Acxiom to see how we might be able to build other models to improve our DM activity, in particular to help reduce committed giving attrition rates.”

Acxiom Charity Account Director, Geri East, added, “The charity sector has been building donor databases over the past decade and, as such, own a valuable pool of data from which to generate funds. But to maximize this asset, targeting must be more intelligent and messages more relevant. By excluding donors who are least likely to respond, Sightsavers not only reduce their costs and increase their ROI, they also minimise wastage on irrelevant communications which are unlikely to spark response.”

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