Premium Watch: Fundraisers Get Carried Away With Tote Bags
Considering that a fundraiser's goal with a direct mail effort is to immediately generate enough interest or guilt to solicit a donation, the freemium is the obvious choice among response-boosting tools ... unless, the fundraiser happens to be championing the environment.
A look at fundraising mailings received by the Who's Mailing What! Archive in April turned up a dearth of premium offers, except when the mailer's cause was related to saving pandas, marshes, the arctic or other threatened natural habitats. Further research into this category revealed that in the past couple of years environmental nonprofits might have used a freemium on occasion, but it's the premium that has worked best at pulling in new donors.
Out of the seven environment-related mail efforts collected in April, four offered a tote bag. In fact, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) have offered the same tote bags for several years with hardly any deviation. NRDC mixes things up a little bit by imprinting a different message on its bag"Save the Whales," "Save the Jaguars"to better complement the focus of its appeal.
All mailers using a cotton tote play up its usefulness and role in reducing reliance on paper and plastic bags. The nonprofits are equally split between using the premium to boost the average donation amount and giving it away for nearly any size donation: Earthjustice (603EARTHJ0404) and EDF (603ENVDEF0404) offer the tote bag to donors who make a gift that is between $5 and $10 higher than the amount at the bottom of the ask ladder. Both The Nature Conservancy (603NATCON0404A) and NRDC (603NAREDC0404X) part with the premium for any gift amount on the ask ladder.
An interesting feature on the donation forms for EDF, Earthjustice and NRDC is a box donors can check to decline the premium so more of the donation could be applied to the cause. It's a smart option that allows nonprofits to get out of the trap of having to give a goody to get a donation.
Some other premiums used by fundraisers this month include: