Cover Story: Food for Lucinia
"In this part of Haiti, over two-thirds of the children are malnourished," says the emotive female narrator in the video about Lucinia's family. While she adds another fact—"One in eight never lives to see their fifth birthday"—Lucinia's 11-year-old sister, Rosaline, is laying on her mother's lap. Guirlene stretches out her right arm to rub Rosaline's bloated stomach in a clockwise motion to put the girl to sleep, because the nap may stave off the hunger pangs.
"Basically, we used six stories from the field," Aloma says. "Three from Haiti and three from Guatemala. And we portrayed the situation in those countries, the poverty of those countries, the need. And we asked donors to give—for food and medicine—$19 a month as a sustaining gift."
This television program with children's stories, interspersed with donation requests from former "Charlie's Angels" star Ladd, represents one of the best ways to connect with long-term givers Aloma calls "sustaining donors."
This, even though direct mail is Food for the Poor's fundraising workhorse, being its main acquisition channel and bringing in just under half of the organization's income. DRTV is "nowhere close" to generating that kind of revenue, Aloma says, but it's a valuable acquisition tool.
Hunter says DRTV is the "best way to get to scale on sustainers," and Food for the Poor has already seen the majority of its "The Least of These" donors become monthly givers. Fundraisers, in general, appear to agree with Hunter and Aloma that DRTV pulls in loyal givers. The "Journal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing" supposes that the donor recruitment channel's "healthy return on investment" is partly due to how fundraisers are treating it—as a way to find committed givers—and that donors now have convenient paperless payment options (opens as a PDF).