You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer browsing experience, upgrade for free today.


ECHO Honors Nonprofit Winners That Touched Hearts

Nonprofits are approaching donors with appeals in every shape and style, from the classic direct mail appeal, to telefundraising and catalogs.

The best were recognized by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), which presented 270 awards during its annual International ECHO Awards ceremony in New Orleans last month. The ECHO Awards recognize the year’s greatest achievements in direct response marketing.

The DMA gave five special prizes, 14 gold, 33 silver, and 37 bronze awards. There were also 78 leaders and 103 finalists.

Nonprofits took home 14 ECHOs, one gold, seven silver, and six bronze.

Credibility was the path to the honors for these recipients. The projects that garnered awards this year all contained an element of authenticity as part of the creative strategy. Many of the recipients presented donors and prospects with real-life stories designed to pull at their heartstrings.



“Abbi” Family Letter Campaign Flat/Dimensional Mail St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Lisa Selner Creative

Marketplace Challenge:

The biggest challenge faced by Memphis, Tenn.-based St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital during 2003 was how to improve on the previous year’s runaway winner, the hospital’s direct mail appeal to major donors. Founded by Danny Thomas, St. Jude’s provides care and research for catastrophic childhood diseases, such as cancer, regardless of the patient’s race, religion or ability to pay.

The 2002 year-end appeal featured a black-and-white photo of Danny Thomas taken in 1962 and netted a $1.6 million return. It’s difficult to improve on a winner, but St. Jude’s succeeded in 2003.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

Using a real patient’s story, one-year-old Abbi, St. Jude’s developed a package that included a detailed letter written by Abbi’s mother. It was created as a Christmas card for donors, much like those letters written on a computer for family members using clip art or photos.

The idea was to take Abbi’s story and create a very poignant rendition of one of those cards to remind donors what is truly important during the holidays: helping children with cancer.

Lisa Selner Creative produced the authentic-looking card, which included a picture of Abbi at one-year-old wearing her 3-to-6-month-size holiday dress from the previous year. She still fit into it because of the lack of weight gain during her cancer treatments. The photo was accompanied by props in the style of the one-hour photo portraits sold in suburban malls. The card had the look and feel of a homemade holiday card. It went in the mail in early November in a green linen holiday envelope.

Creative Strategy:

The creative team produced a combination of powerful raw materials and a non-exploitive story of hope to bring out emotion in donors. Authenticity and attention to detail was paramount for this project, as shown in the specially-made holiday return address label from Marlo Thomas and matching hand-addressed label, all mailed with a live holiday stamp.

To offset the intensity of the story, St. Jude’s included a year-end letter from Marlo Thomas thanking the donor, providing information on the major research breakthroughs, and updates on children who have been helped.


The package’s total cost was $96,474, and it netted $3 million. The cost to raise $1 was only three cents, with an average gift of $517.50. The most important measurement for St. Jude’s was the net yield per thousand of $78,442, almost 50 percent more than the previous year.



Defenders of Wildlife “Stop Norton NOW” Campaign Flat/Dimensional Mail Adams Hussey & Associates

Marketplace Challenge:

A previous ECHO award recipient, Defenders of Wildlife’s challenge was to find a new winner. For 2003, the organization, which supports wildlife and its habitat, came up with a different strategy to keep the message fresh. Defenders of Wildlife targeted the “activist” market, instead of its traditional “animal lover” market, to appeal to those who wanted to do more than just give money.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

The prospecting control package had to appeal to the recipients’ activist tendencies, offering a petition to sign and a chance for the prospects to do more. Defenders used the previous campaign issue of federal Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton’s alleged assault on America’s wildlife.

The kit used anger regarding Norton’s actions as the impetus to encourage prospects to join Defenders of Wildlife. And, instead of just asking the prospect to make a contribution and sign a petition, the package invited the donor to become part of an organized campaign to “Stop Norton NOW!”

Creative Strategy:

The package included a pull-no-punches letter calling Norton on every alleged anti-environmental action she has made. Images of the animals the organization believes she put at risk were used throughout the letter to add more drama. Adams Hussey & Associates designed this package to get the donor’s attention using a bright orange 9 x 12 envelope featuring newspaper headlines of Norton’s alleged misdeeds.


This project was intended to get donors motivated to become an active part of the campaign. It was a call to action and donors responded. The response rate of 1.41 percent was 16.5 percent more than the control package. Not only did this project beat an existing ECHO Award winner, it increased the average gift by 12 percent, exceeding Defenders’ expectations.

Virginia Tax Amnesty Campaign Virginia Dept. of Taxation and American Management Systems (AMS) Multimedia/Integrated Media Barber Martin Advertising

Marketplace Challenge:

The Virginia Department of Taxation needed to develop a comprehensive multi-media campaign to educate Virginia taxpayers about the availability and terms of the Virginia Tax Amnesty Program. The goal was to encourage delinquent taxpayers to pay during the limited-time amnesty program. If taxpayers in arrears would comply during this period of time, they would avoid the additional penalties later.

The challenge was to develop a comprehensive campaign in only three months that would elicit the maximum return during the brief time allotted, a 63-day amnesty window, while mitigating any backlash from taxpayers in good standing.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

Many marketing strategies were enlisted by Barber Martin Advertising to give enormous exposure to the campaign. A key element was the creation of the icon called the Tax Letter Man to be used as a strategic figure in all aspects of the campaign.

Barber Martin chose a real-life actor to appear at public relations events and on all images in an effort to humanize the campaign. A consistent message was developed for all forms of media and in a slogan selected to ensure a short, memorable message: “Pay Now or Pay More Later.” A toll-free telephone number was established for ease of call.

An amnesty kit, media tour, press releases, email newsletters and kick-off events were some of the other tactics that further enforced the message.

Creative Strategy:

The objective of the creative messages to the public was to communicate that the amnesty program was being offered to taxpayers who had fallen behind on their obligations and to give them an opportunity to catch up on favorable terms, while remaining sensitive to those taxpayers who paid on time.


The goal was to collect at least $48.5 million in delinquent revenue. The result was a return of $98.3 million beyond the existing baseline of collections, which was 202 percent more than goal. Though the cost of this project was in excess of $1 million, its collections far exceeded expectations.

Little Each Month Club Appeal Catholic Relief Services Flat/Dimensional Mail BMD

Marketplace Challenge:

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) set out to motivate its donors to give a monthly gift and keep them on the house file longer. This successful campaign reached out to current donors and attempted to get them to sign up as Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) donors. These donors not only provide a steady gift, but the practice also reduces the amount of mail CRS needs to send. The idea was to convert established direct mail donors into monthly EFT donors and eliminate the need for monthly statements.

These EFT donors are 300 to 600 percent more valuable than similar-dollar direct mail donors.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

CRS’s other goal was to generate one-time gifts that would cover the cost of the campaign. This package not only paid for itself, but also brought in new EFT donors with response greater than 2.9 percent, providing steady monthly revenue while cutting the costs associated with reaching out to them.

Creative Strategy:

BMD created a package intended to get the donor’s attention as urgent and out of the ordinary. BMD used a clear 9 x 12 envelope, revealing a strip of postage stamps attached to the enclosed personal letter, to arouse curiosity. The “thrown-together” look on plain paper added to the project’s credibility and appeal and ultimately its success.


The campaign’s cost was $146,492 or $2.09 per name. This award winner had a cumulative annual gift upgrade of 25 percent, with only a 25 cents cost per dollar raised.

It’s Cold In Here… Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund Flat/Dimensional Mail Bruce W. Eberle and Associates

Marketplace Challenge:

What would you do if you were suddenly taken away from your home and family simply for doing your job? The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF) embarked on a mission to free a police officer sentenced to 10 years in prison and created an award-winning appeal. This appeal, like many others this year, had the challenge of presenting a “personal” story to donors, appealing to their sympathy without overloading them to the point of being jaded.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

This package dropped in late October amid piles of Christmas cards, catalogues and solicitations. But when decorated canine police officer, Stephanie Mohr, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for releasing her dog to stop a suspect fleeing at the scene of a crime, the harsh sentence left LELDF leaders feeling as though they had to do something.

Creative Strategy:

Bruce W. Eberle and Associates put together an emotional and honest package to convey awareness and compassion for this imprisoned police officer. A personal letter was sent from Mohr in a plain #10 envelope, the type she had access to in prison. Its authenticity is in the single first-class stamp and Stephanie’s return address on the envelope. The big black mark over her prisoner number also called attention to the prison address and the urgency of Mohr’s plea.

Letting Mohr tell her story, and including a crayon birthday drawing from Mohr’s son Adam, which he had sent his mom in prison, created an element of humanness. The emotion involved with Mohr’s agony at being away from her son had LELDF hoping donors would be moved to give, understanding the heartbreak of a mother torn away from her son before his 4th birthday.


This project’s simplicity and emotional tone brought in more than $159,000 gross from fewer than 26,000 donors. The identical package was mailed to donors twice in a four-month period. The first drop netted $124,170 with a 20.97 percent response rate. The second drop netted $81,910 with a 16.78 percent response. The average gift of the first drop was $29.98 and the second drop’s average gift came in at $27.17.

Houses of Hope for Haiti Multimedia/Integrated Media Food for the Poor, Inc.

Marketplace Challenge:

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. The challenge was to show donors the Houses of Hope for Haiti would have a lasting effect for the people of Haiti and their quality of life.

The program to be funded was a four-phase community-based housing program that would manifest Food for the Poor’s commitment to better the lives of Haiti’s poor.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

This integrated campaign included an annual report as part of a detailed, hand-assembled mail proposal to give credibility to the project. A follow-up telephone call was made the next week by a donor relations staff person to give further explanation, answer questions and instill confidence in the donors.

Information was given to the donors to persuade them that their contribution could make a difference. A simple, yet sturdy home costs only about $2,000 to build but can lift a poor family to a place of dignity and hope.

There are four different phases to allow donors to choose how they would like to help transform lives. Packaged in large, heavy stock white envelopes, it was designed to be very clean and official looking. Inside, a 9 x 12 folder with the various proposal components was presented in easy-to-digest step inserts.

Creative Strategy:

The presentation of the four phases of this project was a crucial part of the campaign. The cover letter was a personal invitation to partner with Food for the Poor to create a lasting, positive legacy in the lives of some of Haiti’s poor.

The donor was given four choices with matching informational step inserts and reply forms. This is the area in which Food For the Poor showed its commitment to this project, named Redemption Village. The summary ties it all together visually for the donor and sets up the upcoming telephone call.


In a relatively short period of time and for a minimal investment of resources, a major building project was funded and hundreds of families were restored to safe living conditions and a degree of hope and dignity.

The goal was to raise at least $1,078,000 to fund the four-phase project. This appeal exceeded expectations, raising $2,500,401, whereby the scope of the project could be expanded.

Speak Up Women’s Aid Organization (WAO) Alternative Media OgilvyOne Worldwide Sdn Bhd Malaysia

Marketplace Challenge:

As a non-governmental organization that fights against gender violence and abuse, WAO wanted to make a statement regarding violence against the women of Malaysia. Every year in Malaysia thousands of women suffer abuse but are too ashamed or frightened to speak up. The society in which they live is not sympathetic to victims of such abuse. Even the media doesn’t report on such cases unless death occurs.

The task was to rally support for abuse victims, as well as getting them to seek help. They needed to get everyone who had been formerly silent to speak up now.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

A low-budget postcard campaign was used to implement the two main objectives: to empower women to speak up if they are being abused and to assure them that if they did speak up, they would be helped by simply calling the toll-free number provided. The women had to be encouraged that they could and should call and speak up for the victims of abuse before it’s too late.

The postcards were widely distributed — at postcard stands, restaurants, clubs, florists, lifestyle stores, colleges, community halls and the like. By using postcards WAO was able to deliver its message and telephone number easily and effectively to the target audience. It is also available as a reference, more so than a letter would be.

Creative Strategy:

A picture of attractive, silent lips was placed on the postcard. The image actually hides the indescribable pain and misery of the victims. The silent lips, upon scrutiny, reveal shocking images of violence and abuse. It is a cry for help with which the target can identify.

The copy then offers the victims empathy and hope if they call WAO’s hotline. Additionally, the public’s apathy is brought to the surface, making them realize that keeping silent about abuse can have deadly consequences.


By placing a number for help directly into the hands of the victims, WAO recorded a 30 percent increase in calls requesting counseling, legal advice and even shelter. Also, 5 percent of the callers were not the victims themselves, but rather their concerned relatives, friends and neighbors. There were letters and debates in the media about domestic violence as a result of the campaign.

On a small budget, this campaign made headway in changing the attitudes of the public toward violence. All production costs were pro bono and others were fully sponsored.

2003 Buffalo Niagara Heart Walk American Heart Association Multimedia/Integrated Media The SKM Group, Inc.

Marketplace Challenge:

Raising funds during the past two years has proven especially challenging for the American Heart Association (AHA). Though AHA has other fundraisers through the course of the year, the Heart Walk ranked second on the list of money-raisers. Therefore, it was important to make the most of this particular fundraising effort. During the summer, Buffalo has major events virtually every weekend, and the Heart Walk needed to stand out among the competition.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

Statistics show that most people who participate in fundraising walks do so because they feel a tie to someone who has been affected by the event’s cause. AHA needed to convince people to participate in the Heart Walk because of their own personal connections. That was the key piece of information for its audience.

A variety of media was used to promote the walk. Invitations to the first organizational meetings were sent to team leaders within the business community. Helping in supporting those efforts was a dramatic poster that was hung throughout the region urging people to sign up for the Heart Walk.

In addition, a save-the-date postcard was sent to a tightly targeted list of donors and participants of past events. A thank you postcard was sent to all those who previously walked in the event. There was also a jacket cover for the day of the walk program and a 30-second PSA broadcast during local TV programming.

Creative Strategy:

The SKM Group created a plea that was compelling enough to generate participation in the Heart Walk. Targeting women was a particular goal of AHA, since cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in western New York, with a total greater than the next eight diseases combined. The goal was to educate people that heart disease and stroke do not just kill men and old people.

The approach was personal. It simply asked the question: “Who will you walk for?” Almost everyone has a family member or friend who comes to mind. Without posing the “will you walk” question, AHA had a greater impact by asking who it is the donor will be walking for, as if assuming that they will walk and not leaving any other option.

Another concept for those who might have lost a loved one to stroke or heart disease was shoes, which would have a strong tie to the event. The shoes of the victims of heart disease and stroke were photographed and memorialized as the central focus of the appeal.


This pro bono effort led AHA to surpass by $5,000 its goal of $400,000, beating the 2002 Heart Walk by $254,000. The Heart Walk was the area’s largest fundraiser for the AHA. Even the number of walkers increased profoundly, in Buffalo, from 1,000 in 2002 to 3,000 in 2003 and in Niagara, from 250 in 2002 to 1,000 in 2003.


Forgotten Exodus Campaign World Jewish Congress Flat/Dimensional Mail Adams Hussey & Associates

Marketplace Challenge:

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has been aiding Jewish communities in distress for almost 70 years, but the last few have been a battle in a saturated Jewish market. Through an event called the Forgotten Exodus, WJC hoped to reach many donors to help alert world leaders of the injustices suffered by Jewish citizens living in Arab lands surrounding Israel.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

The mailing was divided into three donor segments: $0 to $499, $500 to $999, and $1,000 and more. Because the reach was to all donors, the messages had to be somewhat different. Of course, more was spent on the $1,000 and more donors who appreciate the personal touch. The largest segment was the $500 donors, therefore it would have been cost prohibitive to send the entire package designed for the higher dollar donors to the middle level.

For the $0 to $499 donors, a cost-effective, attention-grabbing package was created, including a letter describing the plight of the forgotten refugees. Also included was a timeline of events surrounding the mass exodus of the Jews from the Arab lands.

The $500 to $999 and $1,000-plus groups were sent more in-depth letters in large legal-size envelopes with more inserts, including a message from a member of Congress and a Policy Dispatch booklet from the World Jewish Congress. Petitions were also included due to the president unveiling his “Road Map for Peace.” The packets were customized to the donor while sharing components where possible in order to save money.

Creative Strategy:

For the $0 to $499 donors, envelopes for this campaign included teaser copy on the front about “Ethnic Cleansing of the Jews” being “Ignored” and teaser copy on the back about petitions.

Inside, a powerful lead compared the atrocities of Jews in Arab lands during the 40s and 50s to the horrors Jews experienced in Nazi Germany from the early 30s until the end

of World War II. Explaining the Forgotten Exodus and including a timeline insert, the package called attention to the alarming number of atrocities against the Jews.

For the $599 to $999 and $1,000-plus donors, a more sophisticated package was mailed first class. It included all the components of the other donor’s package, as well as a booklet of Policy Dispatches from the World Jewish Congress on the Forgotten Exodus, and a press release from Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J.

All insert materials were placed inside high-end file folders complete with a pre-printed file label. Letter, petition and reply were clipped to the front of the folder. For the added personal touch for the $1,000 and more donors, there were yellow and red tabs attached to the petitions that stuck out and indicated where the donor was to sign. The attention to detail and complexity of this package gave rise to its credibility and its success.


The response rate of the World Jewish Congress’ $1,000 and more donors pulled 11.29 percent, bringing in $111,000 and an average gift of $1,187. The $500 to $999 donors had a 12.61 percent response rate and a near 300 percent return on investment. More than 5,000 of the $0 to $499 donors were moved to send in an additional combined $150,000.

The overall response rate for the Forgotten Exodus Campaign was 8.27 percent. It netted more than $304,000 for an overwhelming 513 percent return on investment. Additionally, 11,000 petitions to the president and Congress were generated.


Ambassador’s Circle Atlas Invitation and Appeal Campaign World Jewish Congress Flat/Dimensional Mail Adams Hussey & Associates

Marketplace Challenge:

The World Jewish Congress has faced two major challenges: recruiting and retaining invaluable $1,000 and more donors, and bonding them to the organization to maximize giving potential.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

The tactic used to recruit and maintain high-level donors was to ask mid-level donors, along with the current major donors, to join the World Jewish Congress’ president, Edgar Bronfman, in his travels around the world, at least symbolically.

A Rand McNally Traveler’s World Atlas and Guide was sent to all major and mid-level donors to address the need for donations in their efforts to protect the rights and lives of the Jews around the world.

Two audiences were targeted: the $500 to $999 donors and the $1,000 and more donors. Each segment was sent the World Atlas, along with an invitation to join Bronfman in his travels with a symbolic gift. Handwritten notes were selectively placed on specific maps to draw donors’ attention to the current hot spots for Jews around the world.

A follow-up was mailed to both audiences. A simple one-page letter was sent to the donors who did not respond to the first mailing, expressing concern that the donor received the beautiful, hardbound atlas. The letter showed both concern for the donor and reiterated the need for a gift in this challenging time.

The $500 to $999 donors were analyzed to see which would be most likely to join the $1,000 and more Ambassador’s Circle, and only those were mailed due to the high cost. The focus remained on first-year and multi-year donors. After much consideration, two months was given in between the mailings, enough time yet not so much that the donors would forget the initial mailing.

Creative Strategy:

Adams Hussey & Associates put together the Atlas Invitation and Appeal Campaign, which consisted of the Rand McNally Traveler’s World Atlas with gold embossing and color, quality coated maps. The premium arrived in a sturdy box with a personalized label and priority mail sticker.

Also included was a personal letter that described in great detail the need for donations. For those who did not respond to the initial mailing, a follow-up one-page letter was sent two months later. It was a simple note from Bronfman expressing “concern” that the donor might not have received the World Atlas.


The cost for this campaign was $67,638. It claimed a 21.55 percent response. The standard appeal version of the mailing for those already giving $1,000 or more pulled in a phenomenal average gift of $1,163.48.

In total, the Ambassador’s Circle Atlas Invitation and Appeal Campaign netted $263,198 for a return on investment of 489 percent. Additionally, World Jewish Congress recruited 70 new $1,000 and more donors with an estimated lifetime value of $800,000.


Mid-level Campaign 2003 Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers (Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America) Flat/Dimensional Mail Amergent

Marketplace Challenge:

Maryknoll was established in 1911 and has since had one primary goal, the formation of Christian communities in areas where missioners can run projects of spiritual and material development for all nations of the world.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

The campaign includes a series of three highly personalized contacts designed to deepen the relationship between Maryknoll and their most loyal donors, upgrade long-standing givers to major prospects, and review donors who upgraded during the 2002 campaign. They needed to generate immediate and renewable annual income for special funding needs.

The donor file was segmented to renew responders from 2002 and to encourage a new select number of sponsors to upgrade their giving. Each donor was asked to repeat the previous year’s gift or to upgrade it.

The campaign had three phases: announcement, direct appeal and final appeal. All three carried the theme “The Gift of Hope.”

The message was the same for all three phases of the project: “Someone is waiting to hear that he’ll be able to help those in his care. Think how good you will feel when your support provides a missioner with the funds he needs for his special projects,” appealing to the donor’s inner desire to do “good.”

Creative Strategy:

Amergent created this campaign with the primary creative goal of achieving a tone of intimacy with the donor. The donor is portrayed as “best friend,” and his or her importance is the key.

The mailing’s copy reflected the history of the work done by Maryknoll. The most important techniques employed were live handwriting to personalize the package and the first-class postage stamps to demonstrate a sincerity of purpose to the campaign.

The central message to the donor was that they had shown their support in the past and the ask was that they give the “Gift of Hope” so the missioners can provide the vital support to children and families overseas. The letter went on to thank donors for their support.

A personalized announcement was sent to the entire respondent list explaining to donors that they would be receiving a formal request with more information during the next month. The donor was given an outline of the special needs involved in the campaign. The appeal was then mailed to the donors who had not yet responded to the announcement mailing. This package was also fully personalized and included a brochure detailing the appeal and the reasons why the donor has been asked for their help.


With a total cost per donor mailed of $6.36, the average gift from non mid-level appeals received in 2003 was $19.07. This represents a 511 percent increase in the average gift to the mid-level series. The 11,557 responses resulted in gross revenue of $1,125,535. The 2003 mailing was the first attempt to renew donors at upgraded gift levels, showing that 40.7 percent were willing to give another gift at that elevated level.


The President’s Dinner and BAC Board Meeting National Republican Congressional Committee Multimedia/Integrated Media InfoCision Management Corp.

Marketplace Challenge:

In 2003, a new law prohibited political parties from accepting large donations from corporate sponsors. Donations would have to be in smaller amounts from individual donors. Contacting donors more than once per year placed a further challenge on the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) to make this campaign stand out from the rest.

The NRCC needed a strong response during an off-election year and attempted to elicit that response by combining the best elements of past campaigns and an offer they hoped would be too good to refuse: dinner with President Bush.

Marketing Strategy And Tactics:

This marketing effort was three-fold. First, the NRCC needed to raise funds to support Republican congressional candidates and items on the political agenda. Second, the NRCC aimed to gather valuable feedback and input from members of the BAC at the 2003 Board Meeting and present it to legislators. Third, the organization wanted to gather as many BAC members as possible in Washington, D.C., to rally around the president and show support.

The direct mail appeal offered donors the option of attending the event at one of two levels: $5,000 or $2,500. Donors who gave the lesser amount received one ticket to the event, which included dinner and a speech given by President George W. Bush.

Donors who gave $5,000 received a one-year House Majority Trust membership and VIP privileges. The premiums included two tickets to the board meeting, breakfast with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, lunch with NRCC Chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds and Rep. Katherine Harris, a special photo opportunity with a Republican member of Congress, a chairman’s watch and two tickets to the president’s dinner.

Donors who could not attend the events were asked to make a $250 donation.

In appreciation for their gift, those donors were mentioned in the president’s dinner commemorative program and received a matted photograph of the president with a personal note. Donors who gave $150 to $249 also received the matted photo and note.

In mid-March, BAC members received a faxed survey asking what issues were most important to them. This assisted the NRCC in developing topics for the BAC board meeting. Donors received an email message from Congressman and NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds in late March announcing the president’s dinner and asking them to save the date.

That was followed in early April by a one-page letter from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay inviting them to attend the dinner and board meeting and asking them to RSVP by telephone. Following the letter, donors received a four-page fax, including copies of the invitation, an event agenda, presidential photograph and note. Donors next received the invitation by mail and calls went out to those who did not respond. A final confirmation fax was sent last.

Creative Strategy:

This project was built upon the donor’s interests and combined all the elements of previous event programs, i.e., a small-business theme, a recognition ceremony and several well-known speakers with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the President of the United States. By scheduling the BAC board meeting to coincide with the president’s dinner in Washington, D. C., the NRCC was able to attract several hundred more donors to the board meeting than any other past event.

Small-business owners were asked to participate in discussions, which were focused on issues of importance to them, such as taxes, the economy, government regulation and health-care reform. At the board meeting each attendee was presented with a chairman’s watch. And the timing of this campaign, just as the United States went to war in Iraq, motivated donors to go to Washington, D. C. to show their support.


The key to the success of this program was the president’s dinner, which attracted 1,500 donors

As we celebrate our 36th year, NPT remains dedicated to supplying breaking news, in-depth reporting, and special issue coverage to help nonprofit executives run their organizations more effectively.