2012 DMFA Acquisition Package of the Year: Covenant House Paint Can Appeal
"From the second she stepped inside our shelter, she mystified us. Whatever she did, wherever she went, the paint can never left her hands."
It goes on to describe that in the paint can were the ashes of the girl's mother, emotionally engaging prospects.
The the letter was first tested to Covenant House's donors 20 years ago, and the response was off the charts. In the early 1990's it tested the letter to prospects, and it became the control acquisition package. Over the years, Covenant House "tested every element 50 times," Gaffny says. It stood as the control for nearly a decade, but then in 2000 it was beaten by another premium package.
Always looking to beat the control, Covenant House decided to test it again in 2011. It told the same paint can story as the package from the '90s, but let prospects know the story happened many years ago. As it turns out, the paint can package made its triumphant return, becoming the control once again, testing the mission-based appeal of the book with the paint can letter package against high-end premium packages.
In the end, the paint can package with the book premium had a response rate around 1.1 percent to 1.2 percent with a significantly less expensive cost per package than the high-end premium versions, making it the control once more. And Covenant House continues to test ever element, such as the book mailed with a dime and a penny as well, which increased the response rate by 42 percent — however, it also increased the cost per thousand by 24 percent.
"We always look at the back end and the front end for ways to improve and/or beat the package," says Lisa Wilson, president of Wilson & Associates.
While testing contiues to be underway, it's clear that even a story as old as 20 years can still bring in new donors as long as it's timeless, emotionally engaging and mission-centric.
Related story: Quotes From the DMFA Package of the Year Awards Luncheon