Case Study: Minnesota Animal Humane Society's Year-End Fundraising Campaign
The year-end fundraising push is nearly upon us, with just four weeks remaining before the calendar flips to December. With so much riding on the end-of-year fundraising surge, it's never too early to plan. In fact, if you haven't started — or nearly wrapped up — your year-end fundraising campaign planning, you're already behind the eight ball.
As donors become more sophisticated and more inundated, a meticulously planned multichannel fundraising campaign is a must come year end. The Animal Humane Society (AHS) in Minnesota understands that and has already laid out a detailed, integrated campaign for the 2012 holiday season.
Working with direct-response fundraising agency Grizzard Communications Group, the organization dedicated to engaging the hearts, hands and minds of the community to help animals is utilizing a media plan across the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area, according to Grizzard, which includes the use of direct mail, free-standing inserts, online banner ads, space ads, billboards, bus shelter ads, movie theater ads and TV spots. The integrated creative features the dog Esmeralda in each component, along with the tagline: "Believe you can make a difference."
For the 2012 holiday fund drive, AHS has two versions of its direct mailer, the control package and a personalized gift certificates package.
The control package outer envelope features an image of Esmeralda with a call to "Look Inside!" It also has "2012 Holiday Fund Drive" printed under the logo and return address, as well as a callout to for the personalized address labels enclosed for donors. On the back of the envelope has the tagline, "Believe you can make a difference."
Inside is a short, one-page letter that includes the tagline and the same image of Esmeralda, this time with the dog's name under the photo. The letter itself tells Esmeralda's tale. The Chow Chow mix was found in an abandoned house and suffered extreme trauma after being hit by a car. She was brought to AHS and rushed into surgery, and now she can walk without pain. It's a gripping, emotional story sure to tug at any animal-lover's heartstrings.
Following the story, it reads, "Animal Humane Society urgently needs your support of our Holiday Fund Drive so we can save more animals like Esmeralda."
It's a really strong, short letter, that includes the goal to raise $50,000 by Dec. 31, and then describing to donors that, "You can make a difference with your generous gift today." It then tells you specifically what your gift can do, i.e., "$50 can help an animal receive emergency surgery."
The letter, signed by President and CEO Janelle Dixon, thanks donors and includes a postscript again urging donors to send their gifts, a callout to a campaign URL (animalhumanesociety.org/believe) and a note on the personalized labels enclosed.
The remainder of the contents are the reply device, which includes information on the AHS legacy circle for planned giving, a return envelope and the address labels premium.
The gift certificates mailer is slightly different, using a different color scheme on the outer envelope, slightly different font and no "Look Inside!" text. The reverse also replaces the tagline with, "Your personalized lifesaving Gift Certificates are enclosed!" It also has the callout to "Open Immediately" at the bottom.
The letter again features the same creative up top, but it is a two-page letter with slightly different copy. It still relays the story of Esmeralda, but is longer and a little more detailed. The rest of the components are pretty much the same, though the address labels are replaced with the gift certificates, which describe how the certificates work and what the donor's generosity helps AHS achieve.
The remainder of the creative comprises condensed, tweaked versions of the direct mailers. A space ad in black-and-white has the bare essentials to respond. The online banner ads simply have the image of Esmeralda with the tagline and a button to "Make a gift," as well as the AHS logo. The billboard ad is pretty much the same, with the URL and "Donate Today" accompanying the image of the dog and the tagline.
The bus shelter ads add a little copy: "Cats and dogs in the Twin Cities are homeless. Helpless. Waiting for someone like you to help. Make a difference for animals in need. Make a gift today." A QR code is provided as well. And the free-standing inserts have the shorter version of the letter and a similar replay device as the direct mail.
Then there is the video, which again focuses on Esmeralda and her story, which you can view here.
Ready to roll out
With the components in place. AHS and Grizzard plan to roll out the year-end fundraising campaign in a similar fashion as the Michigan Humane Society did last year.
The campaign has been planned, integrated and now is ready to be executed, with plenty of time to deal with any unforeseen surprises with December month out.