Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Building Your Hot or Warm List

Building Your Hot or Warm List

The help sheet Hot Lists, Warm Lists, Cold Lists, looked at what each of these list types was, and what the differences between them were.

  • A hot list is one made up of people who have already had immediate contact or have made some type of commitment to your group.
  • A warm list contains names another step removed from your organisation or group - they may know of you, or may already support a similar organisation to your own.
  • A cold list is one which your organisation knows little about the people on them, what they do, their interests, profiles, etc.
By knowing the differences between them, your group can save time or money when buying access to a list, or compiling a list of your own.

This help sheet looks at ways you can build your hot or warm lists either through the contacts in your current database or through those who get in contact your group. This will help ensure your group's direct mail campaigns can be better directed and attract a better response - ultimately resulting in more cost-efficient and effective mail-outs.

The Importance of Nurturing Hot and Warm Lists

Nurturing your list

Direct mail illustrates more than any other strategy the fund-raising principle of building relationships - particularly building those relationships with your best contacts; that is, those on your hot or warm lists.

When it comes to monetary donations, the average net income per donor from smaller mailings to truly warm lists is much higher and the risk much lower than with larger, less targeted mailings.

That same principle can be extended further than just donors - a better response from hot or warm lists will occur if you are using them to look for new members, volunteers, supporters, fundraisers, etc.

A group must be prepared to work on extending their hot and warm lists and nurture the donors it has acquired through direct mail. You must also be willing to invest a bit of time in keeping track of these lists, keeping them updated and correct.

Ideas to Build your Hot List

Your group can quickly and cost-effectively build on its hot list by using current hot list names in your existing database.

For example:

Most people share common values, attitudes and outlooks with their friends - this can be used to find new "hot names".

Think about running a "member-get-member" promotion, where you send your group's current members, volunteers, donors, fundraisers or supporters a form for them to write the names and addresses of friends they think would be interested in your organisation.

While many groups include reminders in their mail-outs to "sign up a friend" or "add a name to our newsletter list", a conscious, concentrated effort targeting your best contacts may produce even better results.

Some of your members/volunteers/donors/fundraisers/supporters may send only one or two names, others none, some maybe five. But if your group's current "hot list" contains about 200 names, you could get around 40 or so new names from this type of effort.

Have your group's existing members, donors, volunteers, fundraisers and supporters provide a regular list of names for possible addition to your "hot list" contacts.

Another way of effectively looking for new prospects is to have your group's existing members, board, supporters, donors and others provide a list of names for comparison to the current mailing list or database.

This should be done regularly - maybe every six months or year - with anyone not already on your hot list able to be contacted.

Even if your group only adds 10 or 15 new names to your list during each update, that is 10 or 15 more than your group would have been able to contact without this work.

Over a number of reviews, this could lead to dozens of people you can send your direct mail-outs to - and dozens of possible new members, donors, volunteers, supporters and fundraisers.

Ideas to Build your Warm List

Ensure those who contact your office are asked "the question".

People who contact your group or organisation have already "opened the door" - and have taken the first step to learning more about you by getting in touch.

No matter if your group provides advice, referrals, or other service over the phone - or even if it has an office which people can ring to gain more information about you -create a system to gather the names of those people.

When people call, respond to their request and then ask if you can send them more information about your group or organisation. You will get refusals, no doubt, but you will also get some people who are willing to give their name and details to you.
Follow up people who buy any of your group's products, or attend an event you stage.
Make sure you follow up with people who buy any of your group's products (if you have some for sale), or attend an event you run such as:
  • A conference.
  • Seminar.
  • Dinner.
  • Fundraiser, or
  • Trivia or raffle night.
These people have already gotten in touch with you, and know your group exists - that means they are more likely to be responsive to mail-outs from your group.

In fact, people who attend special events and who are not existing members, donors, volunteers or fundraisers should receive mail from your group soon after the event they have attended.

Maybe at the event itself have a sign-up sheet at a stand or pinned up on a wall to attract people's contact details.
Follow up mail (and e-mail) as well.
If your organisation receives inquiries through the mail, or is contacted by e-mail, then make sure they are asked "the question" as well.

People who contact you through the mail or by e-mail should be responded to in the same way as those who contact you by phone or attend one of your group's events.

Follow up these mails - and emails - with either a phone call or reply in writing. A reply in writing may also give your group the chance to send some further information to them, and see if they wish to be added to your database.

Again, these people have already contacted your group and have taken the first step towards knowing more about your group. From there, your task to stay in touch and add them to your database is quite a bit easier.

The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.