"Small Actions" Bring in Big Donations
In an effort to produce a membership-invitation package that would meet, if not exceed, the response rate of its address label control, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), based in Annapolis, MD, turned to the Fiddler Groupa small, nearby marketing firm.
It was there that a creative copywriter with a background in advertising copywriting turned the very complicated task of nonprofit fundraising into a very uncomplicated one. The outer envelope of this piece (603CHBAF00703)
features five, very short, easy-to-comprehend sentences on the front, and four more on the back. The sentences create a simple story through a series of events that leads readers through a logical thought process that helps them rationalize their decision to donate. It shows the prospect how "small actions lead to great changes"the story on the back of the envelope reads: "You plant a seed. The seed grows into a tree. The tree absorbs pollutants that can harm the Bay."
The underlying theme that consistently surfaces throughout the story on the outer envelope and within its contents is this: Saving the bay is not complicated.
The strategy worked. According to Melissa Livingston, CBF's membership marketing director, the campaign has been used consistently over the past two years as an alternative option in a rotation of regional mailings with much success.
"Typically we receive a 0.7-percent to 1-percent response rate through this effort, while our control package yields a 1-percent response rate," she says. "As long as this piece continues to be successful, we will continue to mail it."
The package consists of an attractive, environmentally friendly 6" x 11-1/2" outer envelope, a four-page lettermaintaining that saving the bay requires little effort, is inexpensive and, of course, is not complicateda 51/2" x 101/4" donation card, a BRE made of gray, 100-percent recycled paper, and a free packet of maple seeds bearing the organization's logo and simple instructions on how to plant a seed that will grow into a life-saving tree.
While it would have been less expensive to buy maple seed packets without the organization's logo in bulk from a local distributor, CBF opted to follow the Fiddler Group's suggestion of ordering packets bearing the CBF logo, using a seed supplier with whom Fiddler had previously done business.
"By doing so, we were able to order enough packets to allow us to use them in the mailings as well as for special events," says Livingston. "It was a good decision for us, since we gained additional opportunities for exposure."
Another notable aspect of this mailer is CBF's first-time use of donation explanations on the donation cardadded information that reveals the significant impact one can have on the Chesapeake Bay whether donating $25, $50 or $100. For example, the card reads:
"$50 is enough to grow and transplant 1,000 oysters onto sanctuary reefs. One oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day!"
"Through these explanations we let readers know that small gifts count," explains Livingston. "The added information helps us overcome the obstacle of people thinking a little money doesn't go a long way."
This tactic worked as well. Livingston says the CBF receives an average donation gift of $30 on this campaign. "This level of gift donation is considered to be outstanding in our line of work," she says.
Sharon R. Cole