The Situation

The Four Diamonds Fund works with pediatric cancer patients and their families at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Along with helping provide superior care, they also conduct innovative research vital to the ultimate goal of defeating pediatric cancer.

Direct mail acquisition is an important part of any healthy fundraising program, but Four Diamonds had been relying primarily upon events to acquire new donors. While Four Diamonds had historically sent direct mail appeals to current and lapsed donors, they had never utilized a direct mail program targeted to prospective ones. But they wanted to increase their donor base, and they recognized the importance of capturing new mission-based donors, like those who are acquired through direct mail acquisition.  Because it was a new type of fundraising effort for them, they looked to DMW Fundraising for help with strategy and execution.

The Strategy

This was the first time that this organization mailed an outside acquisition appeal so there were no historical results or control packages to rely upon. As a result, DMW Fundraising procured the prospect lists and worked with Four Diamonds to develop two creative packages to test in an A/B split. The first letter featured a picture of a former patient and spoke of his diagnosis and the care he received from the Four Diamonds Fund. The second package was similar but did not include a photo and took a more emotional approach in the letter. Both packages included a matching gift challenge, ask string, reply slip, and return envelope.


The Results

  • Although both packages were highly successful in generating new donors, one package stood out as the clear winner. With a response rate of 1.18%, the second package with the more emotional letter had a response rate that was 63% higher than the first package! The average gift for both packages was similar, but the second package’s cost to acquire was 52% lower than the first package ($31.89 vs. $65.86) due to the overwhelming response.
  • Four Diamonds was excited by the positive outcome of these appeals and remains committed to mailing direct mail acquisition! This organization is now well on its way to increasing its mission-based donor file.