American Cancer Society's Pioneering Decision: One Year Later
Lin is also quick to point out that the new approach to marketing and fundraising is not only focused on changing this one channel (direct mail): "We are raising the threshold on what we are doing with acquisition for all of our channels," she says.
In 2013, I had the opportunity to speak to her about this new decision on her eighth day on the job at the Society. She made it very clear that all channels (direct mail included) were going to "have to work harder to optimize the marketing plan to drive broader engagement across many areas of the organization." Based on my interview a year later, it seems that she is holding true to this direction and vision.
Some final thoughts ...
While there are no specific metrics available at the time of this update, it would not be a surprise that this decision represented some level of loss in 2013 for ACS. This decision definitely affected direct mail revenue in 2013, and the new donors who were not brought into the organization last year through the mail channel will represent a multi-year, mail donor loss. But, the Society is committed to its new vision and associated strategies, and the goal is to offset that original mail loss through other channels and bring greater revenue to the organization.
If you've read this article and your reaction is, "Wow, their goals are big and that level of change might seem almost impossible," I would agree with you. Let's face it, the industry has been asking for years what the future of direct mail is across the fundraising portfolio, and I can't tell you how many spirited debates I've been in about the definition of integrated marketing, multi-channel, omni-channel, etc. But one thing is for sure — I have been asked a lot if I if I thought direct mail was dying. As I've stated previously in my blog, I have a very clear and strong opinion about this. Organizations that are focused on direct mail as a siloed, stand-alone program are going to experience more and more challenges in the future. But, organizations that are focused on direct mail as a technique to raise funds and are integrating those touches with other channel strategies will see greater success.
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.