We often describe our work — to steal an analogy from Fraser Green — as many notes in a symphony. Every mailing, every touch point, every e-blast is a “note” that we must play perfectly. It has to tell a great story, it has to acknowledge and show some gratitude to the donor and must be pitch perfect. By itself, the “note” sounds good! But we know that the true test is looking at a direct response program in its entirety. Offline and online. If all the “notes” are perfect… well… your donors will be a part of a beautiful movement.
Humber River Hospital Foundation has been a client of ours since the spring of 2014. After a few meetings to discuss donors, values, philosophy, and to connect with each other as humans and agents that want to do good in this world, we decided to work together.
The first mailing for any new client is important. We knew that Humber River Hospital Foundation was a year and a half from moving into a brand new facility — the world’s first fully digital hospital. They are in the throes of a massive capital campaign, and we wanted to ensure that donors, regardless of their giving level, weren’t lost in the midst of large figure gifts and architectural drawings.
We knew that we needed to get donors’ attention from the get-go, and then make sure they felt the love when and if they engaged.
With a brave smile on our face, we presented “Humbert”.
Humbert was created by our team and Jessica Rae Gordon.
Humbert lives at the hospital. Yes, he’s attached to the building high up in the air, but he could hear and see the stories that would make donors swoon! He is the custodian of donor care and love! He has a voice that no one else in the organization has!
He wasn’t received with a ton of enthusiasm.
How was our fearless Special Agent Stephanie Highfield going to sell this to her boss and her boss’ boss? What about Marketing and Comms? The branding police were going to whip out their cuffs and throw us in the back of their branding cruisers… Lots of calls and emails ensued. We decided that if we could morph him away from the logo — in principle — he could stay as a new storyteller for HRHF.
We got the green light to move forward with the appeal — with some hesitation — but time was running short.
Here is Humbert’s first appeal to donors.
*PLEASE NOTE: Every mailing also included a #9 Business Reply Envelope for donors to use to return their gifts. As well, for every pack, there was a HIGH TOUCH in-house version created for the top 20% of donors in the DM file. You can read about that here. Finally, we are showing you only the mail components as a part of this case study. Inspiring thank you letters for each appeal, integration into some of your other channels and support in general marketing and communication will ensure maximum exposure and results!
In a nutshell, donors LOVED Humbert! (PHEW!)
The mailing, as a single “note”, did very well! It out-performed the mailing from the previous year by 8.6%. Not bad. Not amazing — but pretty good.
With those results, we gained a bit more of the foundation’s confidence to keep being a little different in our approach. We were asked “what is Humbert going to do next and in the year ahead?” Like any story, we would know when we got there. He would be present when the donors needed to be reminded how much they mattered.
And that opportunity came in the fall of 2014:
So — how did it do?
It outperformed the mailing from the year before by 27%. Ahh — much better!
Next up was the 2014 Holiday pack. We had a great story and wanted to deviate from Humbert for a bit. When you read the letter you’ll see why this was the right thing to do. (PLEASE NOTE: Photo and signature on the letter have been blurred for privacy reasons.)
Within the first 6 days we had already surpassed 30% of the goal — which was much faster than in the previous year. Donors were sending in their hearts and stories at a record pace!
So — how did it do? Historically, this pack was the big performer for HRHF. And we saw a 23% increase over the previous year!
We had also planned on doing a reminder package to this appeal as a last push into the holiday season. (PLEASE NOTE: Photo and signature on the letter have been blurred for privacy reasons.)
This reminder was the first time HRHF had sent out a follow-up pack to their November appeal.
We also ran into a problem. Accidentally, the appeals were sent out misnamed. For example, the mail piece that came to my home had your name on it. To every donor on the list. After we all finished hyperventilating, we quickly drafted up an apology letter and mailed it to everyone with first class postage. Donors wrote back and called in, expressing their empathy. Teachable moment — messing up can be a good thing. It reminds your donors you are human and NOT machines, and it gives you an extra opportunity to talk to donors — which is never a bad thing!
February 2015 Appeal: We always want to ensure there is at least one appeal per year that has a solid acknowledgement of donor support and shares the organization’s vision for the upcoming year. At first glance, this looks to be an average appeal. Here is the creative:
This appeal performed 71% better than the appeal the previous year! That is really remarkable!
We also put together a reminder for this appeal.
As of this posting, the reminder is a 78% ahead of last year and way over its goal – and the gifts are still coming in. Talk about #donorlove!
To date, Humber River Hospital Foundation, thanks to the remarkable work of its donors, (edit: the direct mail program) has had a 32% growth in its giving in less than a year! Amazing!
Also due to Humbert’s popularity, this is happening…
That’s right. You will (HOPEFULLY and FINGERS CROSSED) very soon be able to cuddle your very own Humbert in the warmth of your own home! This is so very exciting for us Agents, as well as our Special Agents at HRHF.
Our job is to keep playing pitch perfect “notes” in the years to come and ensure that donors feel the impact and importance of their gift, regardless of its size. I have no doubt that if we continue to play our part, donors will play theirs as well.