The Situation

Semester at Sea had been using traditional direct mail appeals for its annual fund campaigns for many years. And because they target alumni of their voyages, as well as their parents and friends of the organization, they had used strategies and mail packages commonly found in the world of higher education fundraisers. But they weren’t realizing the revenue or level of participation that they desired.  SAS wanted to increase alum and parent participation, grow annual fund revenues, and expand its online fundraising efforts. Based on DMW Fundraising’s successes with other higher education clients and multi-channel campaigns, SAS asked us to propose a multi-channel strategy for their Fall annual fund campaign.

The Strategy

DMW Fundraising created and executed an integrated direct response campaign, including an initial appeal mailing with an A/B test, a reminder e-mail appeal, and a direct mail reminder appeal. The initial mailing tested a #11 window package with a luggage tag freemium against a #10 window package with a full-color brochure. The packages featured a segment-specific laser-personalized letter and an image of the specific ship on which the recipient took his or her SAS voyage—six ships in all. The freemium package offered a second luggage tag as a back-end premium—but only in exchange for an online gift.

An e-mail reminder appeal was sent two weeks later, to those records with e-addresses, linking to SAS’s online giving form. Then, three weeks later (and six weeks after the initial mailing), a reminder appeal was mailed—to non-responders of the first two efforts. This low-cost, monarch window package again offered the back-end premium to the initial, #11 package recipients in exchange for online gifts.

The Results

The campaign was a huge success. In the end, this campaign, which mailed to approximately 39,000 SAS alumni, parents, and friends…

  • Exceeded our revenue projections by 57%
  • Produced online gifts representing 27% of the overall responses, and 26% of the revenue
  • Generated an ROI of 302%
  • Provided us with valuable data regarding alum and parent response to a premium offer, giving patterns by age, voyage, mail vs. online response, and more
  • Demonstrated the importance of multi-channel communications to attract younger donors and increase revenue.

This campaign is just another example of how DMW Fundraising can partner with an organization to achieve a multitude of goals within its direct response and overall fundraising goals.

over revenue projections