Bagging the Brown Bag
In November 2003, A2H shelved the brown bag and started mailing the grocery voucher.
“That brought down the cost of acquisition, and yet we were getting better-quality donors, if not the same quantity,” she adds.
Good, better, best
The grocery voucher averages between a 0.9 percent and 1 percent response rate and a $22 to $25 average gift amount. But, ever conscious of mail fatigue, A2H began testing what it calls the trucking-voucher mailing against the grocery-voucher mailing in the hopes of netting stronger results as well as “long-term, quality donors,” says Karen Paciero, director of individual philanthropy for A2H.
Also mailed in a 4-inch-by-9-inch outer, the trucking voucher is similar in style to the grocery voucher mailing, with a double-sided, 8-inch-by-11-inch letter; a BRE; and an 8-inch-by-17-inch reply form, made up of five, 3-inch-by-8-inch, detachable truck loading vouchers.
Though the focus and artwork are on the truck rather than groceries, with an illustration of an 18-wheeler on the outer, the message is the same in both mailings — that a gift to A2H is multiplied 30 times.
The vouchers are the primary difference between the two mailings. The grocery-voucher mailing includes three giving vouchers, or asks, for $15, $20 and $50, while the truck voucher mailing has five ($15, $20, $50, $100 and $1,800). Going up to an $1,800 ask from the next highest, $100 voucher, was a risk, Shoemaker says, but one that made sense given that $1,800 is how much it costs to fill an A2H truck with food.
“I think just putting that into the package was a risk because you risk putting a number out there that’s so large that people think, ‘Well, my $20 won’t make a difference to these people so I’ll just give somewhere else,’” Shoemaker says. “But we’ve actually seen the opposite by doing that. That
putting it out there encourages people to give just slightly more, and that’ll make a difference in terms of things like long-term value for the donor.”