The International Rescue Committee uses a celebrity endorsement and a controversial topic in its latest test: Taking a Risk
For the past four years, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has centered its direct mail acquisitions campaign around the Darfur crisis in the Sudan. It's an easy cause for potential donors to get behind-after all, who doesn't feel for the Sudanese refugees?
But in March, the IRC decided to go in a different direction with its latest test, focusing on aiding the refugees resulting from the war in Iraq. And while helping refugees around the world is the IRC's mission, gaining support for a crisis that elicits political and personal emotions is no sure thing. "The topic alone was a risk for us," proclaims Giselle Holloway, director of direct response for the IRC. "Quite frankly, with the Darfur crisis, there's not controversy. The Iraq War, people have very strong opinions about-whether we should have gone to war, whether we shouldn't have. So we took a risk, and the way we approach our messaging around Iraq is it's not about politics. It's about helping people who have suffered from this horrendous crisis."
The IRC shifts that focus to the refugees, not the war, in many ways with its latest "Update on the Iraq Crisis" test, first mailed to a 50,000 test panel in March and remailed to the same number in September. The #10 outer envelope doesn't have any glitz or glamor. Rather, it consists of only the words "UPDATE ON THE IRAQ CRISIS" in red ink catty-corner to the window and the celebrity endorsement by respected news journalist Tom Brokaw-"Tom Brokaw for the International Rescue Committee"-where the return address normally is.
The use of Brokaw, Holloway admits, is what really helps get prospective donors inside. And once the package is opened, prospects have plenty to ponder. There is a four-page letter written by Brokaw, who is on the Board of Overseers for the IRC, himself, along with a buckslip describing the IRC's efficiency, a newsletter, an insert on the Iraq refugee crisis, a reply form and a BRE (Archive code #605-172743-0810).