Dreaming of a Green Christmas
Christmas in July isn’t the newest marketing idea thought up to boost cash flow for organizations whose donation streams drop when temperatures rise. It is, however, highly effective.
The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division put the concept to the test this year in an effort to stem donor attrition and bring lapsed donors back onto its active file in time for the winter-holiday giving season. For this effort — a test that touched a limited number of homes in the 28 counties served by the Western Pennsylvania Division — the Army eschewed its distinctive kettles and rang a different kind of bell: the telephone.
Starting July 5 and running into the beginning of September, Christian-contracted telemarketing company MDS Communications of Mesa, Ariz., called on behalf of The Salvation Army the households of donors who hadn’t given in at least 13 months. In the last round, calls went to donors who had been inactive for 48 months or more.
“We didn’t go into every ZIP code in which we serve for this particular campaign,” says Fran Brace, director of development for the division. “We went to Allegheny County ZIP codes as well as to service units where we don’t have a particular community center but where we have volunteers in the community.
“We wanted to see how well we did before we actually rolled it out to the entire division,” she says, adding that although final numbers weren’t available as of press time, the results to date looked promising.
According to Cheryl Lockhart, director of mail appeals for the division, total dollars pledged was $66,225. Of that, $45,915 had been received. Donors had the choice of giving immediately over the phone via credit card or opting to make a pledge. When a donor requested to contribute by check, he or she was sent a pledge card and remit envelope. In total, more than 35,000 lapsed donors received phone calls; 2,789 gifts were given or pledged; and 1,831 of those had come in by the beginning of September.