American Cancer Society's Pioneering Decision: One Year Later
One year ago, I wrote an article that detailed what may be one of the boldest moves by a top brand in the nonprofit industry. In a move that took the industry by surprise, the American Cancer Society (ACS) made the following decisions in late 2012 with immediate action in 2013:
- Stop all direct mail acquisition to generate new direct mail donors for the organization.
- Stop all direct mail conversion to offer non-direct mail Society donors (online donors, event-participants/donors, information seekers, etc.) an opportunity to give a direct mail gift.
- Remove the American Cancer Society direct mail donors from all exchange universes.
As a reminder, the Society mailed 41 million direct mail pieces to cold prospects and non-mail Society donors in its last year of the strategy. As many can imagine, this decision had the industry talking and everyone became a crystal ball reader for what the future would hold for ACS's program and revenue.
One year later, I had the opportunity to sit down with Lin MacMaster, chief revenue and marketing officer; Hilary Noon, vice president, consumer insight and experience; and the brand-new lead for direct marketing, Robbin Wilson, vice president, fundraiser marketing for the American Cancer Society. I had all of the questions you can imagine. What I didn't expect was the answers that I got in return. Like many of you, I wanted to know, "How were things going?" and "What was happening with the direct mail program?" What I got was a glimpse into the mind of MacMaster and her team as well as the very unique plans they have ahead of them.
While I was expecting some "simple" answers, rest assured they are not; they are complex.
The past year
It's been an interesting and exciting year at the Society. The organization has been going through a full discovery process to understand what the it wants going forward and the type of donors that will help drive significant growth and success against the mission. A part of this process was the completion of a full analysis on the life cycle of the direct mail donor conducted by Noon's team.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.