NYRP's Work Gets a Starring Role
Founded in 1995 by actress/singer Bette Midler, the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) strives to "reclaim, restore and develop under-resourced parks, community gardens and open space in New York City." In early 2004, when NYRP's long-standing control needed a little revitalizing of its own, the nonprofit took a cue from its talented founder and developed a mailing that lets its work take center stage.
The result was a 6" x 91/2" invitation-style package that uses its letter, freemium and reply form to feature NYRP's success stories and illustrate how prospects can be part of this landscaping renaissance (Archive code #611-655210-0411). "We wanted to really show off the work that [NYRP] has done in revitalizing parks and community gardens ... and make [prospects] feel like [they] are part of the organization," states Lisa Maska, senior vice president at Lautman & Co., the Washington, D.C.-based agency that created the package.
The story begins in the four-page letter, which is signed by Midler. In it, she recounts many of the things NYRP has done and how NYRP's members make it all possible:
Swindler Cove Park is just one of the wonderful projects we've undertaken. When I first saw the area in 1996, the Harlem River waterfront was a disaster area ... Today, this five-acre jewel ... has gracious pathways, scenic overlooks, a freshwater pond ... All thanks to the concern and determination of our caring supporters.
The tale continues on three freemium note cards, which each feature an image of one of the parks that NYRP and its members have renovated over the years.
According to Susan Madden, NYRP director of development, while previous packages have included images of NYRP's parks, this marks the first time the images appeared in full-color as a front-end premium. The note cards were added, states Maska, to give prospects, "a lovely view of what their money would do for New York."
Also new to this package is the reply forman 81/2" x 11" full-color, double-sided coupon sheet that allows prospects to clearly see not only the perks of membership, but also how their donation will benefit NYRP. The front of the sheet features each level of the ask string with a color image and a description of what that amount will do for NYRP:
$35 Plants 50 beautiful bulbs that will bloom for years ... $50 Repairs two park benches ... $500 Plants a bank of parkland with spring flowers ...
The back of the form goes on to outline the benefits that each ask string affords the prospect, such as discounts, books and a newsletter.
According to Maska, the combination of these highly graphic elements and NYRP's strong mission is the magic that made this package such a successand helped it beat NYRP's monarch-sized controlwhen it was tested in April 2004. "We thought that this package was great because it brought the visual element into the note cards and the coupon reply form," Maska recalls. "It really shows what their gift will do."
In the November roll out of this winning package, NYRP tested two cost-saving concepts: a window envelope and a half-sheet reply form without the color pictures. Although it is too soon to gauge results of these tests, Maska notes that just a few weeks into the mail cycle money is already coming in very strong, the result of letting the organization's mission be the star.