Looking Back a Year: A Big Reminder on American Cancer Society's Bold Move
Because of the uniqueness of this decision in the industry, the Society has agreed to also share results over the next 18 months as it realizes outcomes, learns new things and even thinks through new approaches. A multipart series will follow this initial installment.
Let's start with the details of what many in the industry have heard about and, rightfully so, have been confused about. At the end of 2012, the American Cancer Society executive management team made a decision to do the following:
- 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.
To put this in perspective, in 2011 the Society mailed 41 million direct mail pieces to cold prospects and non-mail donors to the Society. This decision will also affect its strategy to mail about 300,000 lapsed donors each year that were placed in the acquisition program.
For those of you thinking "the Society must have been having performance problems with its direct mail program" — you're wrong! In fact, in my interview with Lin MacMaster, the brand-new chief revenue and marketing officer at the American Cancer Society, she said, "Direct mail will still be used, yet it will work harder to optimize the marketing plan to drive broader engagement across many areas of the organization."
As you read this article, it is important for you to separate direct mail as a marketing technique from what many organizations have as direct mail programs. As many direct marketers will agree, the concept of acquiring, engaging and retaining is a top priority for any organization. The Society is no different and is committed more than ever to using all viable, effective and efficient techniques to achieve great fundraising results.
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.