Don’t Toy With the Marine Corps
To keep its costs down, Toys for Tots maintains a staff of just 13, with only one position dedicated to development.
“We make it work because we have thousands of volunteers,” Osman says.
A winning strategy
The Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation named Toys for Tots its Nonprofit Organization of the Year in 2003 for developing a successful direct-marketing campaign that provided significant returns, including a direct-mail campaign that increased contributions approximately 75 percent in the previous five years.
Though direct mail always will be the organization’s “bread and butter,” Osman knows that continued success hinges on bringing online marketing into the mix — and that means more than just the “Click to Donate” button it currently has on its Web site.
“We have been accepting donations online for about seven or eight years, but the system has been pretty passive,” Grein says.
Peters says CDRFG is working with Toys for Tots to revamp its Web site and start an e-mail acquisition effort. The first outgoing e-mails were sent in late October, in time for the holiday season. They also are working to put videos on the Web site.
This year the organization is testing its first text-messaging (SMS) campaign. Posters requesting people donate $5 to the organization by texting the word “toy” already are being distributed in certain communities.
Grein admits Toys for Tots’ approach to fundraising is a bit different than other organizations, mostly due to seasonality.
The organization doesn’t do any direct-marketing fundraising in most of the first half of the year. The most communication a contributor can expect to receive from the organization during that time of the year is a thank-you message, Grein says.
“We do some fundraising, corporate-wise, year-round because many companies work one and two Christmases in advance,” he explains. “But once Christmas comes and goes, we [don’t mail asks]. Many [people] are still paying off their Christmas bills.
Related story: Marine Toys for Tots Foundation