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Case Study: Nonprofit Goes Big with Direct Mail

Date: February, 2013 --


In this Fresh Data Case Study we’ll discuss how a well known nonprofit fundraiser found success with a creative and bold direct mail program that incorporated both its donors as well as those for whom the organization advocates. We’ll outline the details of the package, promotion and detail response as well as the ROI of the promotion. This case study was prepared by Data Services, Inc. in partnership with our friends at the Prescott Report.


The organization is a non-profit fundraiser well-known for its programs which solicit support for identified children throughout the world. Families and donors subscribe to assist specific children and are contacted periodically to solicit special donations. This group has over many years perfected the challenge of getting donors to complete or sign a card or other personalized “deliverable” which is then delivered to the child they are supporting. 

In 2011, the organization asked a select population of its donors for a supplemental donation around the “back-to-school” theme. They mailed donors a package containing a gift that was to be signed and returned to the charity for delivery to the child. The accompanying picture of the envelope sent to the donor shows the theme. It is a back-to-school message that urges the donor/sponsor help inspire the child. 


Inside is an effective solicitation letter and a reply device. In addition, there is a carefully designed glossy, heavy stock tri-fold containing a the gift for the child which requires some assembly. This is to be signed by the sponsor and returned to the charity for dispatch to the child along with a note from the sponsor. 


Remarkably, instructions for the assembly of the gift are in both the sponsor’s and the child’s language, but of course the nonprofit and its agency have been doing “double personalization” of this sort for many years, and of course managing to get the cards, and gifts, to the right children.


This campaign was extremely effective.  The response rate to the 525,000 piece mailing was 24%, and generated slightly over $3 million in gifts, or an average of $24.28. The cost of the campaign was $410,000. It takes a pretty confident organization to commit over $1.28 per solicitation to a fund-raising campaign. 

Note how critical it was to get all the data points correct. Spellings of sponsor and child names, accurate addresses for each, and getting the sponsor and child properly connected. Look to Data Services to keep your data clean and correct so you can do dramatic displays of your creativity such as this.