How a Targeted Second Ask Surpassed Its Goal With a Nearly 50% Response Rate
The American Battlefield Trust was $27,000 short of projected revenue for its effort to save 128 acres of Civil War Battlefield in Perryville, Kentucky, in the fall of 2019. As this particular track of land would essentially complete the preservation of the Perryville site – the last piece of the puzzle – they had to figure out a way.
Their solution? Ask again.
In a rare follow-up appeal, the organization mailed to only 3,236 donors who gave to the project on the first appeal, two months earlier. The theory was that if the donors cared enough to donate the first time, they might care enough to get the nonprofit over the finish line. With budgets already stretched to the max and just enough bandwidth to do a second full-blown appeal, the nonprofit mailed the package first-class for a total cost of less than $4,000. The follow-up piece couldn’t have been more basic: a #10 standard-window carrier with no teaser, a two-page letter setting out the need in no uncertain terms, the same four-color map of the
battlefield from the first appeal, a personalized reply and a business-reply envelope.
Civil War battles in the “Western Theater” don’t usually generate the interest and income that the more well-known battles — like Gettysburg, Antietam and Chancellorsville — do. While not as famous, the Perryville Battlefield was the site of the bloodiest battle in Kentucky and its outcome had a direct impact on the course of the Civil War, but raising money for a lesser-known battlefield is a challenge. Those who gave once to the Perryville Battlefield project would be most likely to give again — and almost half of them did!
Did the trust meet its goal of $27,000? It actually brought in $127,000, netting nearly $123,000. The response rate was an astounding 47.78% proving that its donors were fully invested in saving hallowed ground, and with the right message, didn’t necessarily have to spend a lot to generate a lot. Plus, the $82 average gift for the second-ask appeal actually beat the original appeal’s average gift of $58 by about 40%.
American Battlefield Trust’s 2019 second ask appeal won a Gold at the 2020 MAXI Awards. Ready to celebrate the winners of the 2021 DMAW MAXI Awards? Plan to join us at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2021, for DMAW’s Virtual MAXI Awards Ceremony. A fun, virtual happy hour will immediately follow the awards ceremony. Registration is open and is free to all. Look for more details on DMAW’s website.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the July/August 2021 print edition of NonProfit PRO as “American Battlefield Trust’s 2019 Second Ask Appeal Wins a Gold at the 2020 MAXI Awards.” Click here to subscribe.