A 'Faux' Approach to Renewals
Wouldn't it be nice to mail lapsed or forgetful donors more than just a three-paragraph reminder slip without incurring additional costs? Most nonprofits would think so.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is one organization that has pushed the (renewal) envelope with an appeal that features a faux lift letter and yellow sticky noteboth presented on one page as graphic images fit with drop shadows (604AMCASO0204). The letter comes from cancer survivor and frequent ACS supporter David Fortune; the personalized sticky note is signed by Donald Distasio, head of ACS' eastern division.
One might consider the copy more appropriate for an acquisition appeal, but that's precisely what makes this treatment so effective. It goes beyond the dry, humdrum look and feel of standard renewal packages. The lift note reads:
Just want to thank you again for all the American Cancer Society has done for me and my family. I've survived several bouts of cancer. Each time, the benefits of your research and support from your volunteers have saved my life. I have a lot to live for a terrific family and a great career. Thanks for giving me such hope!
According to Karen Gleason, director of direct marketing at the national home office for ACS, the organization first launched this renewal appeal programreferred to as the Enhanced Mail Program (EMP)out of its California division office in 1996, having partnered with CA-based KassMark agency. Since then, the 4" x 81/4", cream-colored packageemploying the simple outer-envelope teaser, "REMINDER"has become that division's program control. The mailing's success in California prompted ACS to test it as part of a pilot program with five other national divisions.
"Our core controls for our regular renewal program [packages] are usually a small slip with several sentences and then the call-to-action," Gleason says. "We knew from a cost standpoint that we could not exceed the traditional cost of a reminder [mailing]. With this [appeal], we are trying to cultivate people who have given a single gift of $50 or more. Their treatment is a bit more enhanced than our traditional three-inch slip."
ACS currently is analyzing data that has been exposed through January, and will be benchmarking the results from the appeal against the full fiscal year, as well as measuring it against the California package, says Gleason.