Within the last year, United Methodist Children’s Home brought on a new CEO to reinvigorate the organization. This caused a turnover of staff members, including the entire communication department. Randy Redner was brought in as the new Director of Sales, and being a long-time colleague of ours, he gave RPS a call. Randy was in the process of hiring his new team, but the deadline for the upcoming end-of-year appeal was fast approaching. This annual appeal is hugely important to the organization, because it generates more than 50% of the year’s donations. UMCH needed a team to handle this, and the only person who had been a part of the project in previous years was the printer. On top of that, donations had drastically dropped off in the past 5 years. This end-of-year appeal was a critical opportunity to change the direction of the fundraising.
RPS was brought on board to create a new campaign to bring in that much-needed funding. We started to work with Randy, who was amazing at finding the right people with the right answers. We also worked with new United Methodist Children’s Home’s communications director who was brought on midproject.
Looking over previous campaigns, costs, mailing list and results, we came up with a game plan for this year’s campaign.
We interviewed volunteers, staff members and families of UMCH to find the best stories to tell. After narrowing it down to two stories, we conducted a little AB testing. The stories were included in the letter asking for donations.
We also developed a prayer card for the mailer. The prayer was written by the resident pastor at UMCH and included scripture to help people through the tough times.
Next, we tackled the mailing list. This list contained 30 years of records and more than 36,000 names, and had never been cleaned up. We started by removing names of people who we had not heard from since the mid 1990s, along with anyone over the age of 90. This cut the list down to about 20,000 names, which made for a huge expense savings for UMCH. We also supplemented the list with 6,000 new names of residents within a 6-mile radius of UMCH who belonged to any Christian denomination to test the response.
To supplement the mailing, a 6-part email campaign was also created using the stories from the mailing in addition to other stories collected throughout our research. These emails were sent out each week in December, with a final email on the 30th to appeal for those last-minute tax-deductible donations.
- 2012 – 490 donations raised $73,785
- 2013 – 721 donations raised $98,279
- 2012 – 91 donations raised $32,410
- 2013 249 donations raised $53,075
“For us what I loved about working with the RPS team was first they listened, second they pushed us to set clear outcomes, and then they kept us on track to deliver. In addition, and maybe most importantly, they added value by taking our ideas and thoughts along with their experience and expertise that allowed us all to create something even better than I think anyone on the team imagined (the Prayer Card is a perfect example of that). Finally, they gave us home baked cookies and who doesn’t want to work with someone who does that!!!” – Randy Redner, Vice President of Income Development