Another way the CIN mailing stokes empathy in the reader is through imagery. Two photographs on the right margin of the letter show the blighted desert landscape of the Southwestern United States, with a handwritten caption, "Devastating weather affects food production. One year drought, the next floods! We can help for only 11 cents." There is also a powerful buckslip included with a picture of a dejected Native American child and further details about the desperate food conditions and how the organization provides assistance.
CIN first mailed this package in 1997, and it has mailed almost every year since, making it the current control. The organization commonly runs tests for creative and demographic selections. In the past, tests to the outer envelope indicated that official-looking envelopes pull more response than those with more copy and design. That's why the current incarnation mails in a #10, with copy above the address window reading, "PERSONAL & CONFIDENTIAL, TO BE OPENED BY ADDRESSEE ONLY."
The package mails to CIN's housefile and prospect audiences, and the ask for previous donors varies to reflect giving history. CIN's donor base is spread nationwide, and the average donor is middle-class and more than 55 years old. To bolster its direct mail efforts, CIN does some e-mail marketing. "On the [direct mail] reply cards we do not collect a great percentage of e-mail addresses, but it's worth asking for them on the reply ... We do also receive some online donations, and we can track those responses through the URL back to the package," Oliff shares.
While she cannot share the specific results of the package, Oliff says it continues to meet the organization's goals of generating strong revenue while increasing the donor file. She projects that the needs of the reservations will remain consistent and National Relief Charities and CIN will continue to mail consistent to those needs. "Like all nonprofits, we are concerned about the economy. People who are living in poverty-stricken conditions do feel the pinch even more when the money does tighten up," Oliff explains. However, as long as the CIN coin package remains the control, Oliff believes it will continue to mail.