Case Study: MEOW!
The original invitation to join the M.E.O.W. program went out in 2002 to around 3,000 donors who had given three or more gifts in the preceding 12 months, according to Markarian.
Chad Lucier of L.W. Robbins Associates, the agency with which The Fund for Animals worked on the program, said the initial mailing was conservative and that the ask was based on donors’ cumulative annual giving.
“We wanted to make sure that we weren’t downgrading anyone from an annual revenue standpoint,” he explains. “While the average gift may be down, the frequency more than makes up for it.”
Small numbers, big gains
According to Lucier, the initial mailing generated a 7.41 percent response with a $23 average gift, and it just about broke even with a cost of fundraising of $1.03. (Those numbers don’t reflect subsquent gifts made by members of the program.)
The 420 donors who joined the program initially, Markarian says, constitute 2.4 percent of the organization’s overall contributions.
“It’s not a huge number, but it’s a list of donors who we know we can count on to give every month,” he says. “The people who responded to the program gave to us numerous times, but we never knew how frequently they would give. [M.E.O.W.] normalized that. It gives us a chance to know what we can expect, and it gives donors a chance to budget and plan their contributions.”
One surprise that came out of all this, Markarian says, is that some donors wanted to give more than the $50 a month. As of late 2003, there was no animal category for higher pledge amounts, but he says that’s something the organization is looking into this year.
Based on the 2002 success, The Fund for Animals in 2003 expanded the mailing to include people who donated twice in the preceding 12 months. While the response rate for that mailing was slightly lower, at 6.81 percent, it more than doubled the size of the prospective pool.