African Wildlife Foundation’s Mail Adds Statistics to Back Its Appeal
According to most professional fundraisers, successful nonprofit efforts tell stories to motivate donors to give money. But as this direct mail campaign shows, there’s another tool that can be considered.
Mailer Name: African Wildlife Foundation
Date Mailed: May 2014
There’s a saying credited to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin: “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” Regardless of whether that attribution is correct, it is undeniable that appeals based on a single story can be quite powerful in generating emotions.
Rousing anger at the destruction of animal species has long been the key to direct mail membership appeals from the African Wildlife Foundation. Its recent long-term control focuses on the decline of elephant populations due to poaching, habitat loss, and hunting.
The letter begins with a story: “Just before dawn the African savannah is quiet. Suddenly, shots ring out and the earth shakes with the fall of the bull elephant. The matriarch runs …”
Unlike the control, this version doesn't include a freemium like address labels or a calendar.The letter here keeps the opening but reduces the original’s four-page membership pitch to one, mostly by removing copy about the group’s activities.
Instead, most of the back of the page is taken up by an infographic. It illustrates the forces driving poaching, and provides raw numbers on the shrinking numbers of some iconic animal species. Donors looking for any solutions that the organization can provide are directed to go online.
While the rational part of the mind may need some facts to back up its decisions, people act with their hearts first.