The direct-marketing program’s goals are to generate gifts from individual donors and to recruit Partners In Hope, sustainer donors who make monthly gifts. Right now, ALSAC/St. Jude has 400,000 such “partners.”
Lori O’Brien, senior vice president of national direct marketing for ALSAC/St. Jude, says the key to the direct-marketing program’s success has been the migration of donors into the Partners In Hope program.
“Our sustainer program is one of the largest in the nation, and those donors who do give on a monthly basis are very loyal and they’re very, very cost-effective for the organization to maintain. So it’s great for the hospital because more money goes to the children,” she says.
Another key component of the direct-marketing program is online giving. O’Brien says a lot of parents discover St. Jude for the first time on the Web because their child has been diagnosed with cancer and they’re searching to learn more about it.
“I think all nonprofits are struggling with how we can take mail donors and ask them to become Internet donors,” O’Brien says. “The problem is that we want them to do it probably ahead of the curve of when those donors are comfortable with that because of their age. So we’re getting ready to test that with our sustaining group of donors, our Partners In Hope, offering them an online cultivation experience,” she adds.
Strong backing from celebrities also gives the organization a lot of leeway in terms of the breadth of fundraising channels it can use.
“There’s a lot more marketing you can do. There’s a lot more creative fundraising you can do with celebrities,” Sandler notes. “You can get corporations involved with cause marketing, and you can get a lot more free publicity when you have a celebrity involved.”