8.8% Response Takes Direct Response Package Prize

A summer mailing that culled an 8.8 percent response rate with an average gift of $33.41 was enough to garner the 2011 Package of the Year for Fountain House from the Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA).

The organization bestowed honors for designing direct mail packages in acquisition, renewal, renewal mid-level, email renewal and email acquisition.

New York City-based Fountain House’s renewal appeal featured member artwork and premiums. Its August mailing raised $30,539 from 10,392 appeals. It cost 26 cents to raise $1.

Apart from the festive design of the direct mail appeal, the artwork featured drawings by the mentally impaired clients served by the nonprofit. Amy Tripi, president of Highland, N.Y., Tripi Fundraising and designer of the winning “Flying Cat Pads and Cards” package, believes that the member art had a great effect on the positive response.

“With the board wanting to double their file size in three years, we wanted something vibrant and colorful,” said Tripi. “The only way to do this was to incorporate Fountain House artwork. We really have some incredible talent. The mailing can also open the door to talking about other donor programs.”

Member artwork is included on all of Fountain House’s direct mail appeals. “The artwork makes it really easy for people to see what we accomplish here,” said Guinevere Johnson, manger of direct marketing at Fountain House. “We have a gallery of their artwork and have even sold artwork featured in our direct mail packages. It gives the donor an opportunity to have a deeper engagement with the organization.”

Incentives in the package included address labels, notepads, bookmarks and even calendars: all of them featuring artwork from members of Fountain House.

In the acquisition category, the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS) came out on top due to its “NYC: Notecards: Scenes of the City We Love” package. Apart from including useful information related to the nonprofit via graphs and charts, notecards with famous New York scenes provided a front-end premium incentive.

From November appeals, the New York based CUCS, earned $9,963 on a 1.17 percent response rate. The newly-designed packaged doubled the response rate from the control, while successfully tripling CUCS’s housefile. It cost $2.07 to raise one dollar, with an average gift of $25.81.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in New York City won for best renewal-midlevel package designed to reinvigorate donors who had been lapsed for three years. The package incorporated a large-scale photograph wrapped in a cardboard tube along with a lengthy story about from an individual that had been assisted by the organization.

Mailed in September, the package had a 1.96 percent response rate generating $80,049. The average gift clocked in at $127.26 with the cost of raising $1.00 at 30 cents.

Comprising only one facet of a multi-tiered integrated campaign featuring email and direct mail appeals, The Foundation for Aids Research (amfAR) won the award for best email renewal.Paul Habig, executive vice president of the Internet division at Sanky Communications in New York City, believes the package’s multi-faceted approach had a large influence on the appeal’s success.

“Part of our success was integrating the message between a series a emails,” said Habig. “We started the appeal by talking about our annual World AIDS Day, and once it was over, we transformed it into a tax-day appeal. With this 1-2 punch, we tried to gain the attention of donors trying to make a last minute tax exemption.”

Part of their holiday mailing appeals, amFAR, had a response rate 0.40 percent, producing $40,480 with an average gift of $176.

Along with eliciting donations from supporters, amfAR aimed to get more information out about their work, according to Wendy Barnes, manager of individual giving. “One of things we have been trying to accomplish was to humanize and personalize our work to show that our scientists in the lab are having a definite impact,” said Barnes. “We tried to use more imagery and have more stories about our breakthroughs. In the end, we try to link the abstract to the real.”

Copy was tailor-made for the Internet, with a light box and banner corresponding to similar themes of their direct mail appeal. A calendar was also illustrated to show when someone would need to make a donation to write it off during tax time.

Winners were selected by attendees who voted at the DMFA luncheon. A complete list of winners and runners up follow:


Winner: Center for Urban Community Services

Campaign: NYC Notecards: Scenes of The City We Love

Runner Up: PETA

Campaign: Doghouse Acquisition

Runner Up: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Campaign: Holiday Acquisition


Winner: Fountain House

Campaign: Flying Cat Pads and Cards

Runner Up: Texas Children’s Hospital

Campaign: January 2011- Monkey Puppet Renewals


Winner: International Rescue Committee

Campaign: Mid-level Education (Photo/Tube) Mailing

Runner Up: ASPCA

Campaign: Founder’s Appeal #4


Winner: amfAR

Campaign: Holiday/Year End

Runner Up: Friends of the Highline

Campaign: FHL Rail Yards Challenge

Runner Up: Consumer Reports

Campaign: November Renewal Campaign


Fountain House Campaign: Flying Cats Pads and Cards