The Humane Society’s Motion for Donors
With 7 million members and constituents, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) certainly draws a bevy of donor support. But competition continually stiffens, and nonprofits can’t slack on promotion, or their donors may stray.
So, when HSUS was seeking a new way to raise funds from current and prospective donors, it came up with a picture-perfect plan. It hired online communications provider Exciting New Technologies to create a streaming video e-newsletter campaign that would both woo and educate its audience.
Launched April 22, 2003, the effort dropped a combination of biweekly and weekly messages to approximately 14,000 opt-in subscribers who requested information from the HSUS Web site, www.hsus.org. The newsletters featured colorful, moving images of various animals, accompanied by news, tips and online-donation capabilities. “In the [first] three months of the project, we focused on increasing our Internet audience and our Internet donations; we created new titles and grew our total subscriber base to approximately 240,000,” says Joe Mann, HSUS’ senior advisor, e-Community.
This is the charity’s first foray into streaming media. HSUS also is among the earliest users of this technology in consumer promotions. Exciting New Technologies ensures that even those consumers who either don’t have Windows Media or Flash, or don’t have it enabled in their operating systems, can view the graphic perfectly. “Eighty-five percent will get exactly what we intended—the message and the image,” explains Ben Chodor, Exciting New Technologies’ CEO and founder.
Embedded text instructs those who don’t see the video to click a link to view it. While some may not click through, “25 percent more people will open something if it has a video,” says Chodor. And, if they don’t open the message or click through to view it, at least HSUS will know. “All the information is trackable,” he says.
Because the technology is new to many consumers, and because “sights and sounds are exciting and a great way to get donors interested,” Chodor suggests, there is ample opportunity for “viral spreading.” “We hope that people who see it will think it’s so cool that they’ll send it to a friend,” he says.
“We’ve had a much stronger result from outbound mailings,” explains Mann. “The videos are much more compelling. … We credit the video e-mails with doubling our fiscal results over last year,” says Mann. “And, our Web visits are more than triple” compared to last year.
Nielsen//NetRatings estimates that in just four years, 14 percent of all online ad revenue will be generated from streaming media.