Nonprofits’ Premiums Get Back in the Game
After three consecutive years of premiums playing a reduced role in nonprofit mail, the first eight months of 2008 witnessed a substantial resurgence of the nonprofit premium. Indeed, after languishing between 12 percent and 13 percent of fundraising mail in our Who's Mailing What! Archive, premiums climbed back up to roughly 16.8 percent in 2008. Similarly, they took up a bigger percentage of the overall premium mailstream, at nearly 13 percent after sitting below 10 percent for the previous three years.
Possible reasons abound. For example, did the premium purge from some fundraising campaigns, undoubtedly because of budget cuts and higher postal costs, not work out so well? Did response rates suffer?
One thing is for sure, premiums have been a prominent player in the fundraising arena for some time, and that's not about to change, even if the "let's cut premiums!" experiment had succeeded. Simply put, prospective donors are more likely to give when they get some gift in return.
Not any premium will do, however, warns Peter Schoewe, senior consultant with direct response fundraising firm Mal Warwick Associates. "The more your premium looks like a product your donor will see in a catalog or in a store, the more likely she'll be to respond with a gift," explains Schoewe, who suggests that the premium be integrated into a package to offer an urgent and compelling reason for the donor to take the time to send a gift, instead of positioning the goody to create guilt.
Looking at September fundraising mail, the Los Angeles Conservancy certainly follows that advice in its #10 package. Using a bright neon orange, attention-demanding envelope, the Conservancy gives its premium another orange-bathed treatment on its otherwise all-white reply card. An "Architecture Tours L.A. Guidebook" is the kind of gift you'd see in upscale bookstores and resembles what potential Conservancy donors probably appreciate (Archive code #602-716867-0809).