A shake up in its approach to fundraising campaigns saw Catholic Mission’s September appeal grow by 83%. Silje Lea explains how getting integrated helped the organisation raise over $550,000.
Catholic Mission’s appeal calendar consists of four annual direct mail campaigns, all of which now include an initial and follow-up mailing. Traditionally, our direct mail campaigns have been stand-alone appeals where donors have been solely communicated to via a physical direct mail piece and encouraged to make their donation by returning the response coupon.
A shift was made in 2012 to start incorporating online fundraising, moving towards more integrated and holistic campaigns where all channels work together for a joint outcome. Consequently responsibility for online fundraising was moved from the communications department to the fundraising team, giving it complete control over both online and offline campaign activity for the first time.
Last year’s tax appeal campaign was our first integrated campaign, which included testing of e-mail marketing, online campaign landing pages, campaign-specific online donation pages and online advertising in Catholic media, on our own Catholic Mission website and through Google Adwords. We also tested the use of an ‘interactive’ premium mailer in this campaign (see below).
Rolling out multi-channel learnings
The tax appeal’s premium and online components were well received – resulting in raising an extra 35% in income – so we decided give our World Mission Month campaign in September the integrated approach utilizing what we had learned. The World Mission Month campaign centered on the work of Sister Maureen Cejas in building faith and helping rebuild the lives of communities in flood-ravaged areas of the Philippines.
A direct mail pack was sent to 69,750 existing Catholic Mission donors on September 18. Segments included high value donors (single gift in excess of $1,000 in the last 54 months), new donors (first gift in the last 12 months), active donors (donated in the last 46 months) and regular givers.
Donors across all segments received the same letter, but with different letter variables depending on their particular segment. Ask amounts were based on the donor’s previous giving pattern and examples of how the money would help Catholic Mission’s work were used with each dollar handle.
The contents of the direct mailer were similar to previous campaigns, consisting of a four-page A4 letter with colour images of the main characters throughout, an A4 response coupon, a DL business reply-paid envelope and a DLX outer envelope.
However, there were three main differences to previous years’ direct mail campaigns:
- The use of an interactive premium
- The use of integrated online fundraising components
- The introduction of a follow-up mailing
Having seen a positive response to interactive premiums in previous appeals, we created a fold-out piece which compares the size of a house in the Philippines to a standard Australian residence in all packs. The direct mail pack was supported by online components like e-mail marketing, an online campaign landing page, an online donation page, banners on the Catholic Mission homepage, e-mail signature banners for Catholic Mission staff, online advertising in Catholic media, Facebook advertising and YouTube videos. The online integration was crucial to the campaign, as it created opportunities for us to communicate with our existing donors across a variety of channels and we also acquired 71 new donors.
Following-up with a postcard
Previous World Mission Month appeals hadn’t included a follow-up mailing due to the crowded appeal calendar at this time of the year, including the close proximity to our own Christmas direct mail appeal. For this campaign, however, our income target was significantly higher than 2011, so we felt that we had to try something new.
Because of our limited budget and the fact that we had never done a World Mission Month follow-up piece before, we decided to use a simple postcard (see right). The follow-up postcard was mailed to approximately 68,000 existing donors, which excluded the people who had already donated to the initial appeal, two and a half weeks after the first mailing.
Two different postcards were tested, with both including a photo of myself taken in the Philippines as well as a handwritten pre-printed message. One postcard used a picture of me together with some children from a village in the Philippines, while postcard two included a photo of me with the main characters of the story featured in the initial appeal.
As there was no response mechanism on the postcard, the call to action was for donors to go online and make a donation, with each postcard using a different URL so we could track which variation was more successful. The photo test, however, was inconclusive because the lack of physical response mechanism with the postcard likely prompted people to send back the response coupon that they received with the initial mailing. Based on the feedback from our donors, though, it is easy to see that the postcard was being noticed and had some cut-through.
Overall $558,679 was raised from the 2012 World Mission Month direct mail appeal, up $252,904 or 83% on 2011. There was also a 65% increase in the number of gifts and a 10% increase in the average gift (see Figure A).
This campaign’s success can be attributed to the following:
- Interactive premium to engage donors: a fold-out piece which was closely aligned with the appeal story resonated well with our donors.
- Campaign integration, including strong focus on online: $68,639.85 of the total income for the 2012 World Mission Month appeal was raised online (542 gifts). Of this, $33,986 was raised through the two e-mail marketing communications.
- Introduction of follow-up appeal: $19,407 of the total income can be specifically tracked back to the follow-up mailing.
See the campaign creative:
- Dummy appeal letter copy
- Dummy donation return coupon
- Premium fold-out used in the mailing
- Main envelope
- Business reply paid envelope
Figure A: Year-on-year comparison of the World Mission Month appeal
2011 World Mission Month appeal
2012 World Mission Month appeal
Donors mailed (unique)
Number of responses
ROI ($ raised/$spent)