Mining for Monthly Sustainers
After generating more than $29 million in FY04 via direct mail -- a 16 percent increase over FY03 -- the American Diabetes Association set an aggressive DM goal for FY05: Take in $31.3 million, a 9 percent increase over FY04.
Quite a lofty goal, that. But Patty Ruch, director of direct mail and database marketing for ADA, says that by incorporating testing at both the conceptual and component levels, the organization was able to bring in more donor dollars, more consistently.
ADA first had to determine if its mission was strong enough to launch and maintain a Monthly Sustainer Pledge Program. Much to its delight, the Alexandria, Va.-based health charity discovered a potential pledge audience while planning a special year-end tax mailing. The marketing team searched for -- and found -- $250-plus donors on the file, both cumulative and one-time.
From the onset, ADA’s goal was to increase net income from donors already making multiple gifts by automating the giving process (electronic funds transfer, automatic credit card deduction, etc.), as well as to migrate a portion of its substantial donor base to more frequent and higher overall giving.
Says Ruch: “We had to ask, ‘Is our story compelling enough to engage continual giving?’”
ADA was confident that the pervasiveness of diabetes was prevalent enough in donors’ minds to draw considerable gifts on a monthly basis. To minimize costs, the organization used current direct mail acknowledgement materials for its invitation; the only additional upfront expense was for a brochure used in acknowledgement packages that describe the program.
Before the initial drop, ADA developed a business plan with projected cash flows and costs; established business rules and coding for its database; created customer service procedures to prepare for donor inquires; set up EFT and automatic credit card processing; and established a system for monthly billing for pledge-check payments.