In the fundraising arena, premiums often are used as an additional lure to give to a cause, but that lure can be pretty unimaginative. Tote bags, stuffed animals, umbrellas and fleece blankets are still worthy gifts for prospective donors, but they may appreciate the institutions that go a little further in their premium offers. How does becoming part of that cultural organization's story sound? That's called a premium that's hard to top, and you'll see it in several packages I examine this month.
Overall, in the age of declining response rates and tighter prospect purse strings, the premium tactic definitely has surged in the cultural organization sector. Three years ago, barely one-quarter of all efforts employed the premium, but in 2008 more than 40 percent did-an increase of 36 percent. It's a trend we'll continue to see, especially for packages that, again, are thinking outside the premium box.
The premiums don't get mentioned on the 6" x 9" envelope for the American Revolution Center, perhaps because it's hard to top the George Washington teaser: "Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!" The six-page letter's first page doesn't explicitly detail the premiums either, but instead piques the prospect's interest with, "Your name will be forever associated with Valley Forge when you join the Valley Forge Freedom Brigade of The American Revolution Center." It goes on to say that the listing of these names will be part of the permanent collection and thus "available for your children and grandchildren to look at and find your name." Good way to pitch a premium, eh?
On page five of the letter, as well as on the reply form, the full detailing of all seven contribution levels and corresponding premiums is given. The first four begin with the name inclusion and then add in a limited edition Valley Forge cap and a replica of George Washington's Camp Cup. The second-highest level includes the illustrated edition of historian David McCullough's book "1776"-also signed by the author-and for $1,000, prospects get all of the above plus a personally guided tour (Archive code #602-717489-0901).