2013 Grand Control of the Year: Union of Concerned Scientists
A petition call to action on the order form is also a vital element of the mailing, Mace says. "Our members have consistently voiced a desire to be as involved in advancing our work as they can be, and actions such as these petitions give them that opportunity."
In this case, the prospect is addressing Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Fox News Channel's parent company, and asking for changes to correct the "opinions" of Fox's hosts with "facts."
Mace also credits the premiums (name and address labels perfed to the order form and a book on the back-end fulfillment) with lifting response: "The offer of the book premium, at a $35 gift level, serves to increase our average gift. We've seen the book serve to increase our membership retention/renewal rates; new members who sign up at the $35+ level and receive the book have a higher renewal rate."
Overall, Mace believes that the package works "because it taps in to concerns that our members have: that powerful forces are using misinformation and distorting science to protect short-term interests at the expense of our long-term health and safety; that we are in jeopardy of abandoning a reliance and respect for independent science; and that someone has to provide the research and background information that can be used to counter those trends."
He also points out that the other work of UCS — in energy, food and agriculture, and nuclear security issues — helps to maintain a "high retention rate" for members who come to UCS through this mailing.
Because of the success UCS has enjoyed in acquiring, engaging and retaining members, Mace anticipates that the group will continue to rely heavily on direct mail, despite some shift toward online.
"[It's] still an important source of new members," he says. "I've always heard that organizations that stop mailing to supporters and begin using only online communications see a drop-off in overall giving, even from donors who had only given online before. The mail continues to be a channel that donors rely on for news and information about an organization — even if that communication is a reminder to make a new gift."