Case Study: DM-fueled Patriotism Delivers for National WWII Memorial
Every fundraising campaign has its challenges. And time usually is of the essence. But some campaigns have time restraints that are more compelling than others.
Such was the case when the American Battle Monuments Commission needed to raise funds to build the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Immediate problem: The veterans of World War II, those members of the public who would be most interested in supporting the cause, were dying off at an alarming rate, explains Steve Winchell, president of Stephen Winchell & Associates Inc., the Arlington, Va.-based agency that partnered with ABMC for the direct mail portion of the campaign. And those that are still alive are at an age where philanthropic giving traditionally declines.
“Our biggest challenge was the age of the donors. The World War II Memorial initiative didn’t start until 50 years after the event was over,” Winchell says. “The generation of people who fought and lived through it were in their mid-70s when this project started.
“They’re retired, living on fixed incomes, no longer in their working years,” he adds. “It’s harder for them to make contributions.”
But with a hard-hitting direct mail campaign that roused patriotism not only in aging vets but in their families and friends and in the survivors of those who died in the war, the ABMC netted “a couple of hundred thousand dollars” on the first rollout, Winchell says. And the momentum never stopped.
When the memorial was dedicated on May 31, the DM campaign alone had raised $42 million — roughly a third of the total contributed income, according to Mike Conley, a spokesman for the ABMC.
The winning DM strategy included packages with high-profile celebrity endorsements such as Walter Cronkite and Bob Dole; opportunities for veterans, survivors and their families to add their personal stories to a WW II Memorial database; and a pre-penned “letter to the editor,” which recipients were asked to mail to local media outlets.