Against the Odds
For all of you mailers bemoaning the state of the economy and how it's affecting direct mail campaigns, just be glad you didn't have to build-from the ground up-a brand-new direct-mail program—list and all—in the midst of the economic downturn. Such has been the case for The National Crittenton Foundation.
The 125-year-old organization recently broke from a relationship formed with the Child Welfare League of America in 1976, prompted by a call from its members for "increased support, increased visibility for not just the work that they do but for the issues that compelled girls and young women to end up in their agencies," says President Jeannette Pai-Espinosa. Formerly known as The National Florence Crittenton Mission, the organization changed its name, opened its headquarters in Portland, Ore., in 2007, and ventured out on its own.
Realizing the organization couldn't operate on its endowment forever, Pai-Espinosa and her team began building a development plan including a direct mail program.
"This year we've been more focused on not only increasing our direct capacity-building services to our member agencies, but also to raising money ourselves. Not really good timing, but that's how it happens," she says.
The organization sent its first direct mail campaign early this year to its housefile, which Pai-Espinosa admits is small, and another small list it rented comprised about 18,000 names. But being new to the game, there were some growing pains. The mailing had poor results that Pai-Espinosa blames on the list, which, it turned out, wasn't made up of its target audience as much as she had hoped.
This new acquisition mailing—only the second direct mail piece sent by the organization—was sent to a new rented list of 50,000 people, primarily women, ages 28 to 65, who have given to issues related to women and girls before.