Inteview with Christopher G. Cleghorn, Easter Seals (405 words)
By Paul Barbagallo
Easter Seals' Executive Vice President of Direct and Interactive Marketing Chris Cleghorn shares a few of his fund-raising challenges and successes with Target Marketing.
Target Marketing: Tell me about your most successful campaign.
Cleghorn: It would be the complete redesign of our Easter Seals seal acquisition [package]—the one that actually uses the "seals." We tested it five years ago and rolled out the campaign the next year. Our organization had been mailing seals for about 60 years. It was the original source of our identity. The reworking of the package into a new format with stronger elements and more effective use of the seals as a symbol of our commitment to services for people with disabilities led to a doubling in our prospecting response rates and permitted us to greatly increase the building of our donor file.
TM: What is the most difficult part of prospecting for new donors in today's economic climate?
Cleghorn: There is the relative volatility of prospecting at any time. This includes the need to rely on lists secured from others and not necessarily knowing the kinds of changes taking place on their files. Prospect lists by their nature are people with no demonstrated loyalty to our appeals, our cause. Plus, the cost of lists and the fact that postage has gone up markedly in the last several years make prospecting challenging at any time. Add to that a consumer confidence that is very low—with economic factors, corporate financial performance and accountability concerns, and the continuing status of elevated or high terror alerts … These are a lot for people to contend with, even in a society that really is very safe.
TM: Tell me about your greatest fund-raising challenge and what you did to overcome it.
Cleghorn: One was a long-term challenge in my initial years at Easter Seals to unify Easter Seals' 100-plus separate affiliates' direct mail programs into a centralized, efficiently managed [program] that has become something much more successful over time. The challenge was developing the argument for why a pooling of resources in terms of volume purchasing, marketing expertise, staff dedication, commitment to a discipline of testing, and other elements of a well-resourced and well-run program are required to make it successful. We eventually addressed that by finding a new donor acquisition technique and a new approach that permitted us to rebuild the donor file and create new streams of income.