And the Winners Are …
Personalization is nothing new in direct mail. It often takes the form of addressing prospects by their first name on the reply form and in the letter’s salutation. To get even more attention, some innovative mailers intersperse the recipient’s name throughout the letter. Seems cutting edge — until, that is, you see this mailing from The Out-of-Door Academy, a Sarasota, Fla.-based private school.
The package is mailed in an unassuming, white, 6-inch-by-9-inch carrier envelope in support of the institution’s annual-fund campaign. Included in it is an 8.5-inch-by-11-inch, double-sided letter, a 5-inch-by-8-inch reply device — both featuring the same blue-and-green color scheme behind The Out-of-Door Academy logo — and a BRE. The letter is first-name personalized, beginning (in the sample provided), “Dear Dana & Melinda.” Sent to parents of enrolled children, the letter focuses on the value of The Out-of-Door Academy experience, including statistics that reiterate the benefits of an independent-school education over public school, and reports the amount raised in the previous year’s annual campaign.
At the end of the letter is the case for support. The last three paragraphs implore the family in a highly personal way. The third-to-last paragraph begins, “As a returning family, it is important for you to understand that the tuitions charged at independent schools like The Out-of-Door do not provide adequate financial resources to cover the actual costs of educating Brandon and Jonathan … .” Needless to say, Brandon and Jonathan are Dana and Melinda’s kids.
FundRaising Success profiled this campaign in June 2006 for its use of variable data imaging. The Out-of-Door Academy put its database rich with information on its students, their families’ giving histories and even students’ nicknames to use to create this campaign.
The reply device — which includes the typical ask string and payment information on one side and a four-color photograph of a building on the school’s campus with copy reading, “Your support of this year’s Annual Fund Campaign, Dana & Melinda, is vital to our overall success at The Out-of-Door Academy … ” — even uses different images depending on the particular campus each student attends.
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