The Situation

The development staff at St. John’s Preparatory School had been conducting traditional annual fund direct mail appeals for many years, with moderate success, and had only recently experimented with online fundraising. They were ready to try something different, to regain the attention of their target audience: alums, parents, grandparents, and friends—and to combat declining annual fund revenues—so they asked us to propose a strategy for their Fall campaign.

The Strategy

DMW Fundraising proposed an integrated, two-part direct mail campaign including an initial, freemium appeal mailing (a St. John’s Prep-branded luggage tag that DMW felt confident would appeal to the target audience), and a follow-up reminder appeal.

A #11 window package was created for the initial appeal, which included a high-quality luggage tag freemium with the St. John’s Prep logo, and a personalized letter and reply device, reply envelope, and full-color buckslip insert. The buckslip featured a key part of the appeal’s offer—a second luggage tag as a back-end premium—which was only available in exchange for an online gift.

A simple and inexpensive reminder direct mail appeal was sent six weeks after the initial mailing—to all but those who had responded to the initial mailing. Again, the back-end luggage tag was offered.

The Results

Projected for $65,000 in revenue, the campaign raised over $106,000—exceeding projections by 61%. Overall response was 5.73%, with the non-donor alum segment pulling 1.17%. Surprisingly, the non-donor Grandparents/Friends segment pulled a 10.3% response. Online gifts represented 14% of the overall gifts and produced average gifts that were approximately 22% higher than gifts by mail. Additionally, the reminder appeal alone generated approximately 36% of the total gifts to the campaign.

Not only was the campaign the most successful single-season appeal in the school’s history, but the development staff received many compliments from the constituents who received it.

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