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Case Study: Nonprofit Leverages Data-Driven Direct

Date: October, 2014 --


In this Fresh Data Case Study we’ll take a look at how a non-profit utilized local targeting within a multi-channel campaign involving direct mail and radio, yes radio, in order to achieve their fundraising goals. We’ll further demonstrate how their effective use of data-driven tactics contributed to enhanced response and brand recognition metrics and provide useful tips on how to make use of these tactics regardless of your own brand vertical. This case study was complied by Data Services, Inc. in cooperation with our friends at the Prescott Report.

Dyrenes Beskyttelse (DB) uses a mix of radio, direct mail and post cards to secure donations for its operations in Denmark. Its challenges and methods will be familiar to US non-profits, and the results of its marketing tests of media will be useful to US companies as either confirmation or correction of a chosen marketing path.

DB is one of the biggest Danish organizations focusing on animal protection and is as well-known as the ASPCA in the United States.  Their primary focus is on house-hold pets and they support animal welfare through a network of animal shelters.  As in most countries, these facilities care for abandoned and abused pets and endeavor to place them into new homes.  As in many countries, the activities are funded through donations from the public.

Just as in the US, it is important for a non-profit organization to show its donors how their money is spent. It is also important for the fundraising arm to show that its marketing kroner are spent effectively.  And, of course, it is important for DB to create awareness and get close to the target audience. 

 The Campaign & Media

In September 2011 DB launched a multi-media fundraising campaign addressed to both existing donors and prospects who reside near four selected animal shelters. Three media were selected:

1. Radio commercials: The campaign was begun with radio commercials one week before the direct mail campaign was to be dispatched. Listeners were urged to send a text message in order to donate $9.00.

2. Direct Mail: 4,000 of the 80,000 current donors to the organization received a solicitation letter. There were four versions with pictures and copy relating to the animal shelter which was located closest to the donor.

3. King Size Post Card: These were mailed to 40,000 prospects who lived close to the animal shelters and may or may not have known of their existence. They had the same message and layout as the direct mail piece. 

The core message was identical in all media: never before had so many animals needed help.  Both written solicitations requested donations through the text message route, and the direct mail piece to existing donors also included a bank payment authorization form which a donor could complete and give to her bank authorizing a donation from her account to BD. 

(Interesting side note:  This payment device, called a “giro” or “bank transfer”, is common in Europe. Rather than filling out and sending a check to the payee, the account holder completes the “giro” (transfer authorization) form provided in the letter by the charity and leaves it with her own bank, which makes payment from her account. If you’re not using this payment option already, test whether providing the giro doesn’t give a lift in response. The donor doesn’t have to look for a check or credit card or do anything but sign her name and enter her account number and bank name on the form provided.) 

Campaign Results:

During several weeks after the start of the campaign, the independent research company Milward Brown Alstad Research carried out an online survey to which 171 recipients of the print media and 175 radio listeners reported their impressions of the campaign. 

The results are very enlightening.

Media serving as origin of the donations

Radio only                          27%

Radio and print media     23%

Print media only               50% 


Interest and branding effect     

                        Print Media   Radio

Memory                  52%         20%

Interested              72%          56%

Relevance                57%         44%

Word of mouth                      38%          17%   (told others)

Branding effect *   3.75       3.42

*How clearly it is remembered that the advertising was sent by DB. 


Synergy with radio         

                            Radio + Print     Print Media 

Like to read        95%                     81%

Like to donate   24%                     13%

News value        42%                     29%

Branding *          3.83                     3.72

* Strength of the positive image of DB  


Print drove the most donations, which is not unexpected given the mailing to the donor base. For all targets, print by itself is considered more memorable, interesting, relevant, and worth sharing than messages through radio.  As we all know, print is powerful. 

Nevertheless, the analysis also shows that direct mail and radio work very well together, the partnership of radio commercials and the printed word is nearly twice as effective at driving donations as print alone, and print and radio together created a higher branding effect, which one hopes will carry through the year to the next campaign! 

Not to be lost in all this is the effective segmentation of the donor audience to receive a postcard with the closest DB location to their physical address. This is an effective tactic that should be tested by marketers with brick-and-mortar locations, be they non-profits, retailers or any other vertical.

Remember that Data Services, Inc. can help make sure you have the current addresses of your loyal contributors and help you optimize delivery. Putting in place effective address hygiene and data management practices, especially for those prospects to whom you are reaching out to for the first time, would also be in order. Furthermore, if you are using radio, we should examine your lists to see if segmenting them by broadcast area will be possible, so you can talk to your donors while they’re reading your campaign letter! How about a 24% response rate like DB?!