Time is always of the essence for marketers, but especially for nonprofit organizations responding to a crisis. The National Wildlife Federation demonstrated its agility during the Gulf Coast oil spill in 2010, launching a direct mail fundraising initiative even as the environmental disaster was still unfolding.
Within four days of the April 20 spill, the Federation staff had assembled to discuss a direct mail campaign. By May 8, the organization had mailed 846,000 “Emergency Alert” mailers to its members. On the face of the windowed No. 10 envelopes were the words “Oil Spill Crisis Update: How You Can Help.” Inside, members found a one-page letter describing the enormous scale of the crisis, including specific health threats to wildlife in the area.
“One of the reasons NWF benefited in this campaign is that we got down there immediately,” says Dave Jorgensen, senior director of membership for the NWF. “We commissioned boats to get reporters out on the waters, and started educating people with daily website updates and through media coverage. When donors received the direct mail campaign, we had documented stories and evidence why their support was so critically needed.”
Along with highlighting the group’s quick-response capabilities, the campaign helped the NWF generate a 2.5-percent response rate to donor mailings.
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