A boarding-school client needed to refresh its donor acquisition package to attract high-value, mission-based donors. The original campaign was an outstanding success in terms of fundraising, but because of the call to action, many donors accidentally restricted their gifts for “milk” on their checks, and the school was forced to designate those funds to purchase only milk. As a result, the school had an overwhelming surplus of money designated for “milk”, but they still needed funds for other critical items, namely food and school supplies.
First, to solve the problem of funds having to be designated to purchase only milk, Concord Direct recommended pivoting from “Milk Tickets” to “Meal Tickets”, highlighting the importance of providing food to the children attending the school. Like the Milk Tickets program, the Meal Tickets package asked donors to sign and return a ticket with their donation — an involvement tactic proven to increase response rates. Each package included three ticket choices: $15 for juice and milk, $25 for school supplies or $30 for food. The creative clearly promote the need for more than milk and engaged donors with the school’s mission.
Recognizing that some students were going hungry when they went home over the weekend, the school introduced a Weekend Backpack program. Building on the success of the Meal Tickets package, we developed a Weekend Backpack package that included a letter explaining how the new program worked and what it provided for just $5:
Each bag holds two days’ worth of healthy food items that are easy for little hands to open and don’t require refrigeration or cooking. We privately place these little bags into their backpacks so no child is ever embarrassed about not having any food at home. None of the other children will ever know who gets one.
Instead of offering a premium item, Concord Direct recommended asking donors to choose and send back gift tags with uplifting messages (“You can do anything!”) personalized with the donor’s name. Teachers place the tags on each child’s bag of weekend food, giving donors a chance to feel a part of the school’s mission. The package also includes a photo card featuring a student and a personalized thank-you card from a student.
The Meal Tickets package solved the problem of designated funds while performing comparably to the Milk Tickets package.
The Weekend Backpack package cut the cost to acquire a new donor from more than $20 for the Meal Tickets package and more than $41 for a competitor’s package to only $9.
The average gift ranges from $22 to $50 — well above industry standards for this type of organization.