And the Winners Are … the 2014 FundRaising Success Gold Awards for Fundraising Excellence
Any membership organization knows how difficult it can be to persuade members to give to an annual fund when they pretty much look at their membership dues as their donations. The Art Institute of Chicago was no exception. So it took a look at what it had been doing — a single-channel, annual year-end campaign — and did it better by turning it into a multichannel campaign (based on what was working in its acquisition and lapsed-donor reinstatement programs). Our judges liked the gumption it took to try a new approach to an old problem but basing it on something that was seeing success for the organization in another capacity.
During November and December 2013, members received two mailings and a series of four emails; the messaging was carried through to a lightbox on the museum’s website. Direct mail and the lightbox directed recipients to an e-commerce page to donate, while emails linked to a similar URL using personalized information that was prepopulated, including the same variable ask amounts that were included in the recipient’s letter. And it all wrapped up with a telemarketing effort to select members in the final days of the year.
Overall, the campaign resulted in $158,895 gross revenue from 1,636 donors with a 53 cents cost to raise a dollar. This is up from the single-channel results from the 2012 year-end annual campaign of $86,227 in gross revenue with a 68 cents cost to raise a dollar. The increase is even more impressive when you consider that there were no changes in the universe pulled for the single or multichannel campaign. The museum established a new control based on the results of the campaign, involving at least the email follow-up series, which has been implemented in all campaigns moving forward.