Founded in 1913, the American Cancer Society (ACS) is one of the oldest nonprofits in the United States, and it’s committed over $3 billion to cancer research and funded 40 Nobel Prize winners. The organization rose to prominence through very public efforts, such as the Women’s Field Army—100,000 strong and replete in their khaki uniforms—that took to the streets in the late 1930s to canvass for donations and educate the general public about this troubling disease.
Comprising 22 percent of its budget, fundraising remains central in the ACS’s fight against cancer, only now it relies heavily on the direct mail program to get the job done. With cancer as formidable a foe as ever—in 2006 alone, there were 1.4 million new cases and over 560,000 cancer-related deaths—the ACS uses many sound technological advances to bolster its direct mail campaigns. In particular, direct mail/e-mail integration has become its weapon of choice. Recently, I spoke with Karen Gleason, the mass market CRM initiative leader for ACS, about how she combines direct mail efforts with e-mail to further the cause.
Ethan Boldt: How are you integrating your direct mail with other channels?
Karen Gleason: We have tested integration of both telemarketing and e-mail touches with the direct mail program. Last spring, we began listing a unique URL on each of our reply slips to give our donors the option of donating online. Additionally, we began a concerted effort on the reply slip to begin collecting e-mail addresses from our direct mail donors.
EB: Do you use e-mail primarily as a follow-up tool for direct mail? Does it blend with the direct mail campaign?
KG: We have primarily utilized e-mail as a follow-up tool; at present, timing tests have been between one to three weeks after the mail drop. We always include the general theme/creative look and feel of the direct mail packages in the creative execution.