Case Study: Human Rights Campaign
So you've built a universe of online activists who subscribe to your e-newsletter. Maybe they take action on your behalf — signing online petitions or calling their members of Congress. And once in a while, you probably send them an e-mail asking for a donation too.
Good — that's a great start!
But if the vast majority haven't donated, how can you further engage these important supporters and convert them into donors? Is this your big chance to recruit the elusive "younger donor" your board is looking for? Is direct mail an option? (Do "young people" read direct mail?) If so, should you treat them like donors and mail them appeals? Or perhaps include them in your annual renewal series? What about direct-mail acquisition? (Note: We wrote about using telemarketing to convert online activists to donors in the March issue.)
While there is no silver bullet that works for every organization, there are a few that have made this work (and many more that haven't). This month, let's take a look at the Human Rights Campaign's successful online/offline conversion efforts — and the direct-mail package, dubbed "Right Side of History," that also allowed it to expand its traditional base of support.
The Human Rights Campaign has had an active online program since the 1990s, but recently dedicated staff time and financial resources to further growing and expanding its member and supporter base. As an organization focused on advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, its traditional base was largely LGBT supporters. In the last few years, HRC has moved to bring more straight allies into the organization's advocacy work and, in 2010, took that decision a step further and began to focus direct-mail donor-recruitment efforts on straight activists.
With a large online file — built through paid acquisition partnerships (like change.org), aggressive Facebook efforts (HRC crossed the 1 million "like" threshold earlier this year), and other viral file-building efforts (marriage equality petitions, etc.) — HRC has a plethora of data to mine. And to find those supporters most likely to convert through the mail, mine it did!