Gold Awards Special Mention Honorees
Following are descriptions of our Special Mention honorees in the 2013 Gold Awards for Fundraising Excellence.
Direct Mail ($10 Million and Up)
State of the Race Donor Insider Appeal
Obama for America
Submitted by ABD Direct
The first thing that stands out about this piece of direct mail is its size — it's big. It's also colorful — bright blue. And different — the outer is a translucent mailer that lets the recipient see through to the "Obama blue" folder inside. But even more impressive is the approach that the campaign takes. Though it is strictly a direct-mail piece, it gives a nod to the fact that savvy donors expect organization to reach out in numerous ways, meet their supporters where they are and engage on as many platforms as possible.
With about 75 days left until the 2012 election, President Obama's senior campaign strategist reached out to the campaign's housefile with a message of urgency. In addition to the main letter, the folder includes a full-color brochure that outlines the costs of advertising in various media markets in battleground states and "story boards" of current ads being run in those states. It's a reminder of just how much time, effort and resources go into getting the message out to the voting public via multiple channels, and it puts concrete amounts on each of the campaigns in various states. The mailing generated one of the highest response rates and the highest average contribution of any of Obama for America's housefile appeals during the campaign.
E-mail ($10 Million and Up)
"I am a Cancer Survivor" Patient Conversion Campaign
City of Hope
Submitted by Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey
Our judges were impressed with the way this campaign used heartfelt letters from an actual cancer survivor who received life-saving treatment at City of Hope. The two e-mails from the patient include her photo, her explanation of how much City of Hope means to her and her no-nonsense appeal for support. They do not, however, focus on the details of her illness. Instead, they offer hope and put the opportunity to help save lives squarely in the hands of the reader.
Somewhat controversial was the fact that this campaign kicked off in early December with a non-ask e-mail from the City of Hope staff that simply thanked donors and wished them well for the holidays. (OK, it's less controversial as an e-mail than it would have been as a direct-mail piece, but still ...) This three-e-mail series went out to former City of Hope patients who were not yet donors, and the non-ask "engaged the audience in a way that a fundraising message wouldn't, reminding them that they were still part of the City of Hope family and starting the campaign off on a positive note, thus making the audience more receptive to future fundraising asks."
E-mail (Less Than $10 million)
Cattaraugus Emergency Rescue E-mail
Submittted by Avalon Consulting Group
Right in the middle of its very successful Membership Month E-appeal Series that featured institutional messaging and a matching-gift opportunity, Farm Sanctuary was alerted to an emergency situation where more than 60 neglected farm animals were in need of rescue. Due to the financial drain such an endeavor would put on the organization, it was decided that the current e-mail appeal would be dropped and an emergency appeal put into motion.
The ensuing Cattaraugus Emergency Rescue E-mail was hard-hitting and really played on the emergency theme. The look of the e-mail was intense, featuring mainly black and red, as well as photos of the actual animals that were rescued and videos taken at the rescue site. The text of the e-mails is heartbreaking and pulls the reader right onto the horrendous scene.
Our judges were especially impressed with a header on one of the e-mails: "*Breaking news from the field: As we were about to send this email, we learned that two of our recently rescued cows ... are pregnant ..."
The whole package is a study in urgency that carries through in design, content, photos, etc.
Multichannel (Less Than $10 Million)
Safe Haven for Cats Annual Appeal
Safe Haven for Cats
Submitted by The One to One Group
There is no denying the "awww" appeal of the Safe Haven for Cats campaign. Judges were especially fond of the unique outer treatment, which featured either a very realistic photo of a cat's paw breaking out of the front of the envelope or an equally convincing photo of a kitten's face breaking through the paper. The elements of each of the various components of this campaign carried over the strong graphics and really got readers' attention. It's a bright and happy campaign that tugs right at the heartstrings of pet owners and other animal lovers.
Multichannel ($10 Million and Up)
Bible Translation Technologies
Submitted by Douglas Shaw & Associates
Quite simply, our judges were impressed by how well this campaign conveyed a sense of urgency, especially since its message might have been fairly surprising — people who translate Bibles around the world often find themselves in grave danger. This campaign, meant to raise funds to provide translators with kits (netbooks, satellite communications terminals, solar panels, batteries, etc.) that allow translators to communicate in real time with translation consultants without having to travel to "spiritually hostile regions of the world."
The direct mail features stark, black, white and red envelopes with the words "persecuted" and "under attack" featured prominently, as well as hard-hitting letters that detail the plight of persecuted Christians around the world. The urgency carries over to the organization's website, e-mails and all elements of the campaign, making it difficult to ignore.
The translation kits are expensive — almost $4,000 each — and this campaign raised more than $426,000 in net revenue, funding more than 100 kits that were deployed in places like Nigeria, Cameroon, Papua New Guinea and the Congo.
Reject the Right January 2012 Sustainer Invite
People for the American Way
Submitted by Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey
People for the American Way has long had a strong sustainer invitation program, and it succeeds because the organization and its agency, CCAH, know its supporter base and use that knowledge to speak to supporters in ways that get their adrenaline flowing. True to form, the script in this campaign focused on "the political threat the Radical Right would pose if it were to make any gains in the U.S. House, or take back the Senate — or even the White House!" It is full of talk of "radical candidates who are hell-bent on ... sending our nation back to the dark ages" and who want to "roll back civil rights, women's productive rights ..." and "support radical deregulation without common sense ..."
There's no doubt PFAW and CCAH know how to talk to their supporters. This was the most successful sustainer invite in PFAW's history — bringing in almost 500 monthly donors.
Women Air Force Service Pilots Homecoming 2012 Flag Tube Mailing
National WASP WWII Museum
Submitted by Fund Raising Strategies Inc.
Tube mailings are usually pretty well-represented in our awards submissions, but this year we only saw one. What was special about it is that rather than containing a simple tchotchke to entice a donation, the offering from the National WASP WWII Museum acted as an invitation to a special event. Potential donors/attendees were asked to sign a card that was placed on the American flag rolled up inside the tube and return the card and flag (and ideally, a gift) so they could be symbolically present at a Memorial Day fly-in that was attended by 20 WASP. The returned flags were used to decorate the National WASP WWII Museum and then handed out to attendees. It was an expensive mailing ($3.24 per letter), but it was still the museum's most successful mailing of the year. More than 16 percent (2,210) of the recipients sent back the flag with an average gift of more than $50, netting just more than $65,000 ($4.89 per letter).
On the Edge
One Day Tampa Expansion Project
Submitted by Joy FM
It doesn't get much edgier than a goal of raising $1.8 million in eight weeks — unless it's raising $1 million in one day. Those were the challenges that Joy FM, a contemporary Christian radio ministry in Florida, took on in its expansion campaign. In late summer 2012, a signal that would allow the station to cover some of the most densely populated metropolitan areas of West Central Florida became available. The station had saved $1 million toward expansion efforts but would need an additional $1.8 million to purchase the signal.
Making the effort even more challenging: "Very few of the people we were asking to give would benefit directly from this expansion. Those who will be most positively impacted cannot hear the appeal and do not even know the stations exists!" the submitting materials explained.
To meet its goal the station planned to raise $800,000 through personal solicitations with major donors, local businesses and organizations and — this is the cool part — raise another million dollars in a one-day, on-air fundraiser from the general audience. The goal was to get 1,000 to give $500 and 500 people to give $1,000.
The station pushed the one-day fundraiser through a concerted, multimedia effort for two months, then continued to thank and remind listeners of the need through the end of the year. When all was said and done, the station met 100 percent of its on-air goal and 79 percent of its personal solicitation goal. With fundraising continuing on into June 2013, the station anticipates that the new signal will be on air before the end of the year.
A lot of organizations might have been daunted by the two-month challenge before them in a situation like this. But Joy FM soldiered on. Kudos for taking it to the edge!
Related story: And the Winners Are ...