Pushing the Envelope
Ease of readability and ease of use characterize their new approach. “Briana said she’d like to do the gate-fold, and I thought that was really a great choice because it gives you the opportunity to present both funds equally in an innovative format and put the letter front and center,” Sweat says. On the back of the mailer, all three response channels are highlighted, and the two funds are repeated throughout the package using a basic icon for each.
On the front panel, where the die cut for the gate-fold appears, there is a unique design element, which is extracted from one of the Institute’s holdings, a Louis Sullivan design for an elevator grill. “That is a really important part of where this piece went—just connecting it back to the collection and something that’s sort of iconic from the Art Institute,” Fabbri says. The Sullivan design element is repeated subtly throughout the mailer to reinforce this connection.
About 73,000 pieces were dropped to members of the museum, as well as current and lapsed donors. To date, there has been a good response rate. “We’re not approaching anyone who has no previous relationship with the Art Institute,” Fabbri says.
So far, there are about 600 responses attributed to this campaign with many additional in-person and online donations to be added to that tally in a list matchback. Fabbri says that for past campaigns, more than 50 percent of response enters through online or in-person giving. Only halfway to its goal of $1 million for the annual fund alone, Fabbri says the Institute will send another direct mail appeal for the annual fund in May.
Happy with this design, Fabbri hopes that continuing to send effective, eye-catching communications will help increase the percentage of members who give from a current rate of 8 percent or 9 percent to at least 15 percent over the next few years. “I think the more that we approach donors with pieces like this—that are hopefully more reflective of how they feel about the Art Institute and what they look to us to provide them with—we’ll continue to get better responses,” she says.