Cover Story: Feeding the Need
2. Change the new-donor acknowledgment program so donors would bond more closely with the mission of A2H. That meant moving away from the traditional letterhead letter and CRE stuffed into a standard-size envelope. In its place, A2H offers a hardcore thank-you letter that references donors’ year-to-date contributions and explains the amount of food and groceries that amount allows the organization to distribute. The lower part of the letter is a personalized response device.
“Of course, we still include that reply envelope,” Shoemaker explains emphatically.
3. Change the creative content of appeal packages to more clearly report the needs A2H attempts to solve, along with increased emphasis on the negative consequences of those needs not being met. The new mailings tone down information about specific programs that are part of the A2H effort. In its place is a greater emphasis on the general issue of hunger and A2H’s core program of soliciting and distributing food and groceries.
4. Introduce a new donor-focused newsletter to replace the previous organization-focused newsletter to (a) provide more affirmation to donors, (b) increase education related to the central issues addressed by A2H, and (c) provide donors with another giving opportunity.
While the old newsletter — The Grapevine — focused primarily on giving options, the thrust of the new Hunger Digest is on programs that donations make possible.
5. Revise the gift acknowledgment program to place more emphasis on how A2H fights hunger in America. Now, acknowledgement letters are personalized to match the piece to which the donor responded, and the back of each acknowledgement letter is dedicated to the “how” of what the organization does.
Where to go from here? According to Shoemaker, A2H would like to take a more personal approach to direct marketing.
“It’s hard to do as technology for this is expensive and will take time to leverage savings, but I want to make sure that we honor the donor’s wishes before they have to tell us about them,” she says. “Giving patterns and demographic information can tell us so much about what someone’s preference might be. More and more we’re learning that asking is as much about listening as anything else.