High-Concept Package Beats Doldrums
While many companies and organizations were opting for less expensive direct mail initiatives over the past year or two, one organization stands out for using a high-end approach. NARAL Pro-Choice America, a political
advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., mailed a 12" x 15-1/2" kraft paper envelope containing a three-ring binder along with a standard business-size envelope that holds: a letter; an R.S.V.P form; a reply envelope; and a hole-punched legislative update newsletter and urgent press release.
According to Vincent Wishrad, membership coordinator, the reason this more expensive package was sent was because NARAL found, through package testing, polling and focus groups, that its higher-dollar membership segments tended to be more politically and legislatively active than similar files in other organizations. "With this information, we decided to test a higher concept package in late November  that incorporated a legislative cultivation with a hard ask," says Wishrad. "The result was the legislative binder."
Designed to maintain strong relationships with current donors, the mailing was initially tested at the suggestion of NARAL's fund-raising consultant Adams Hussey & Associates of Boston. "It was successful then because we learned that our membership demands information on our work," explains Wishrad. "All our packages tend to be heavy on our legislative, legal and political work, so it was a natural progression to offer the binder as a convenient way to allow our members to receive information from us throughout the year and be able to keep it all in one place."
NARAL's target audience for this mailing included three segments of its membership file. The first segment being its $100 to $499.99 groupThe Leadership Circlethe second segment being its $50 to $99.99 groupto which NARAL asks for an upgrade to Leadership Circle statusand the third segment being its $500 to $999.99 and $1,000 cumulative members. In this third segment, NARAL asks members to join its Justice Blackmun Society of $1,000 and up donors.
Just as the binder implies, NARAL intends to send these members hole-punched legislative updates throughout the year. According to Wishrad, NARAL's membership likes to receive substantial information from the organization, and the binder serves as an effective way to keep donors anticipating frequent communication.
"Last year we sent them our '50 Ways to Talk About Choice' document, our legislative voting guide and frequent legislative, legal and political updates," says Wishrad. "We are currently working on allowing members of the Leadership Circle to download legislative updates directly from our Web site."
In terms of donations expected, Wishrad said that since the majority of this package is mailed to NARAL's $100 to $999.99 level, it generally expects a $115 to $120 average gift.
Wishrad noted that NARAL has received positive feedback on this annual mailing and states, "The legislative binder has proven to be a successful antidote for the November/December fund-raising doldrums. As with all package concepts, Adams Hussey & Associates and our membership staff brainstorm new ideas and continually test them against standing control packages. As long as this format continues to win, we will continue to mail it."
Sharon R. Cole