Mutual Missions, Mutual Success
After wrestling with hats, videos and other tchotchke premiums that are a pain to manage for the response they pull, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Director of Development Charles Robbins wanted something better. He found it in a
partnership with The Advocate.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is a nonprofit advocacy group that fights for equal rights for gays and lesbians. The organization uses direct mail, among other media, to generate members and supporters of its cause. Since November 2003, it has been offering current members and new donors an unusual premium: a one-year subscription to The Advocate, a national gay and lesbian newsmagazine.
In addition to being one of the oldest and most respected magazines for the gay and lesbian audience, the publication contains a great deal of political and social issues content, says Robbins, which aligns nicely with the Task Force's mission.
The Advocate is so well known to this audience that a recent #10 envelope package to prospects offers next to nothing by way of promotion other than the display of a few magazine covers on the donation form (601NAGALT0804). The letter makes no mention of the gift incentive, a
move that Robbins says is based on the theory that people who would read the letter would join because they were
invested in the cause; the free subscription then becomes
a value-add. And for those people who are offer-oriented, the donor form has all the information they need.
According to Robbins, the Task Force started using the free subscription offer in both prospecting and renewal efforts a year ago, and "results have been stellar." Prior to this offer, the average gift was $46 for prospecting efforts and $54 for renewal campaigns. Since adding The Advocate subscription premium, the Task Force has seen its average gift on
renewals jump to $68, with a 15-percent response to the first drop; the average gift on prospecting efforts increased to $56, with response hovering around 0.7 percent.
"I attribute this lift entirely to the gift incentive," says Robbins.
What makes this even more of a win for the Task Force is that Robbins was able to increase the membership rate from $35 to $40 at the same time. He states that he encountered no price resistance, a testament to the magazine's allure and the strong affinity between the two organizations. (While it's not noted in the mailing anywhere, an annual subscription to The Advocate costs $39, a value that helped Robbins make the rate upgrade.)
In fact, the hearty performance of The Advocate list for Task Force acquisition efforts is what led Robbins to pursue a partnership with the magazine. Guessing that there would be some duplication between the nonprofit's donor base and The Advocate's housefile, the organizations worked out an extra subscription deal to offer: People joining the Task Force who already have a subscription to The Advocate receive a one-year extension.
But this partnership was not without its risks. "We had to commit to getting at least 5,000 subscribers to get the deeply discounted rate. We bit the bullet, but it has been easy," says Robbins. Since November 2003, the Task Force direct mail program has generated about 5,000 subscriptions for The Advocate.
"I am sold by it," Robbins says of the premium offer. "It's the best thing to happen to our program."