Nonprofits Mix Up, and Expand, Their Premium Offers
Many nonprofits find a premium that works for them and then stick with it. Not the National Audubon Society. Within the past year, they've truly mixed it up premium-wise. While the final two efforts in 2009 featured tote bags, previous ones in 2009 included a penguin plush toy, an umbrella, a blanket and a windbreaker.
Their most recent effort — a 6" x 9" that mentions the magic word "FREE" on the outer (Archive code #603-171818-0910), in relation to its premium offer — positions not one, but two tote bags as the premium. Despite the generosity (or maybe because of it), there is no buckslip insert discussing this premium, as with previous efforts. Rather, the tote bags are mentioned on the membership form and then on the back of the four-page letter. Seems as if the big premium push was reserved for the outer: "FREE Two Audubon Tote Bags See Inside!"
The National Museum of African American History and Culture goes into multiple premium territory in its October 2009 mailing. Sent out to prospective charter members of this future Smithsonian museum, the #11 outer envelope mentions a freemium (a free decal) and even shows it through a less-used round window (Archive code #576-717826-0910; see thumbnail below).
Inside, it begins with a very strong four-page letter (a young African American soldier returning from World War II, only to be denied admission — because of the color of his skin — to a movie theater within blocks of the White House) that talks mostly about its mission, as not until page four are the premiums mentioned. Perhaps the intention is to get prospects behind the museum and its mission, and then surprise them with the offer of several rewards for their largesse?
The "membership" donation of $25 wins the donor a 10 percent discount at all Smithsonian stores, a newsletter, a subscription to the quarterly magazine and a listing on the e-Honor Roll. For higher gift levels, the premiums kick in. For $40, a Certificate of Appreciation is given; for $100, a double-CD "Every Tone a Testimony" (an aural history of African Americans in words, music and poetry); for $250, the book "Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits."
With the museum literally being built on these funds, the letter then discusses the $1000 level and mentions that all the above premiums come with that, in addition to becoming a member of the Director's Circle, "a special group of leaders who are rewarded with invitations to exclusive events, behind the scenes exhibition tours, and a copy of the beautiful book "The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing the Promise," documenting 90 years of African American life in the Nation's Capital." The full-page reply form then lists each of these premiums next to each gift level.
Another mailer that used the round window on the outer was the National Rifle Association, which shows a decal freemium and uses the teaser "Your New NRA Member Shield Enclosed" (Archive code #601-172388-0910; see thumbnail below). Opening the mailer, you're immediately struck by the reply card, rather than a letter — a trend that I've noticed in more and more nonprofits, which seemingly want to get the business out of the way. On the card and "membership activation" form are two pictured premiums that come with different memberships: a "heavy duty" duffel bag for a one-year membership and also a 9-LED aluminum barrel flashlight for a three-year membership.
Both premiums then show up on their own buckslip, which describes their utility and connects them to the NRA cause. The duffel bag can be used "on an extended hunting trip" while the flashlight "is a handy tool to have on your belt, in your car or at arms length in an emergency." On the letter, a picture of the duffel bag (as well as copy) then makes an appearance in the top right-hand corner and the flashlight in the P.S. area, maximizing their potential impact.
Lastly, "conservative" organizations have demonstrated the tendency to use a book premium as a big draw for passionate ideologues on the so-called "right." The David Horowitz Freedom Center is giving out the book "Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting American Without Guns or Bombs" for a gift of $50 or more (Archive code #601-711381-0910). The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute not only uses conservative author and commentator Michelle Malkin in the corner card on its #10 outer, it also will send her book "Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies" for gifts of $55 or more (Archive code #601-717855-0910).