Looking Back a Year: A Big Reminder on American Cancer Society's Bold Move
Of special note is that the organization is very unique in how it raises money. Unlike many nonprofits, it raises $477 million each year through community engagement events and $114 million through planned giving — nearly 67 percent of its total revenue — and only 6 percent through direct mail. Therefore, when reviewing the audiences and priorities, the special event audience, for example, is the largest market segment within the organization and, as you will read below, is very different than the much smaller direct mail audience.
The Society has always strived to ensure its 100-year-old brand is held with the highest regard. Because of this long-standing view and the accompanying desire to mitigate brand risk, programs were reviewed to make sure they still aligned with the ideals and expectations of the organization overall. For fundraising programs, of special attention is the current environment with the various charitable watchdog entities, as well as the overall consumer tolerance for fundraising expenses that may be seen as disproportionate.
As you have guessed by now, parts of the direct mail program were heavily discussed relative to the requirements described above. The decision to ultimately remove acquisition and conversion direct mail from the revenue portfolio was not a simple or easy one. And, while this article is specific to the direct mail decisions, this process created similar decisions in other areas of the organization. As we all know, change is hard — but it is required for success.
How direct mail measured up
If you're thinking, "The American Cancer Society must really dislike direct mail" — you are wrong again! Its leaders are as committed today as they were in past years to direct marketing as a way to reach consumers with their critical messages. In fact, when interviewing executives across the marketing, fundraising and constituent experience areas, it is clear they view direct mail as a channel to be used in a truly integrated marketing and brand strategy.
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.