Strike a Match
Laudano adds that the simplicity of the package really helped as well, getting right to the point so donors could respond immediately.
Another key to this campaign’s success was the prior experience LW Robbins and CGF had doing an emergency appeal. They learned things from the prior emergency campaign, such as the ability to handle all the online donations that came flooding in, something CGF learned the hard way after the 2008 crash.
“What we found the first time we did this in 2008 is the need for a properly operating website that’s able to handle the volume of people willing to give online,” Sisley says. “A lot of people who get the mailing go online to give. In 2008, we didn’t have that ability to handle the volume, and our site kept crashing. We lost a lot of money that way, so we totally revamped our website and were able to take that volume this time around.”
Sisley also says “having an active, accurate, correct database is crucial so you can have access right away and know who to get the emergency appeal out to.” And he adds that you must have the ability to turn it around within a day or two with an urgent message.
“We’re out the door in just a couple days telling everyone there’s a need with a clear, concise message. It doesn’t have to be long. Tell what happened and what you need the donor to do,” he says.
That’s exactly what CGF and LW Robbins did, and it resulted in nearly $80,000 in less than a month. The campaign was such a success that it was honored with a New England Direct Marketing Association 2013 Award for Creative Excellence Gold Award, taking home the Direct Mail on a Shoestring (budget less than $10,000) gold.
Making a match
Just a couple short months after the 2012 helicopter crash, CGF was set to roll out its annual Fallen Heroes campaign, focused on helping families of Coast Guard members who die in the line of duty, just as was the case with the emergency appeal. Results for the campaign typically had a very high average gift but a lower response rate, so CGF was looking for a way to increase the response rate and revenue — a challenge in its own right.