Give What You Can
The lion’s share of donations, about 80 percent, was generated by those meetings.
Ironically, GCFD’s strong direct-mail program — and donors’ subsequent comfort level with receiving information and making donations via mail — at times seemed to work against the capital campaign.
“It was a challenge for us to break into a new kind of relationship with our donors,” she says. “When we got face to face with people, not only were we able to ask for a gift, but it also was a chance to really talk to them about
the organization’s mission and vision.”
Also useful, Maehr says, was inviting people to visit the new facility, which her team did from day one, even when it was an unfinished site, “to show them the dream.”
GCFD also has a large, successful direct-marketing program that solicits gifts from about 45,000 donors a year, many of whom give two or three gifts a year in response to direct-mail appeals. The organization is growing a monthly giving program that’s becoming an important stream of support, Maehr says.
Over the four-year capital campaign, the development team mailed five direct-mail appeals to its housefile of 55,000 to 60,000 donors, commissioning a new package that included a brown kraft-paper outer that matched other campaign materials.
GCFD raised $1.4 million through direct mail, with an average gift of $182, compared with a $63 average gift in its regular direct-mail program. Maehr’s team didn’t send capital-campaign appeals to the acquisition file, choosing instead to build on the sense of community with existing donors. However, working off the mailer’s success, the team sent out a kraft-paper package as its fall 2003 regular acquisition package (not linked to the capital campaign), and it did so well that it’s now the control.