2 Non-Profit Marketing Strategies That Work

Companies in a variety of markets have used sweepstakes to lift response rates since the dawn of the modern era.

Many non-profit fundraisers have not tested this proven strategy because they are unwilling to “risk it,” due to concerns that sweeps do not project the desired “image.”

Towards that end, I interviewed Cary Castle, Senior Vice President of Development and Communications at United Spinal, who became a convert to sweeps and raffles early in his career.

Do sweeps & raffles really work?

Cary tells the story of how Consumers Union, his former employer, ran out of cash in the early 1980s.

Using telemarketing, they called subscribers asking for money. Much to their surprise, the strategy worked and subscribers started sending in donations. The modus operandi evolved from telemarketing to direct mail, with a $25,000 raffle successfully motivating donors to open their wallets.

Fast-forward to 2000, when Consumers Union was looking for ideas to ratchet up their fundraising efforts.

They met with Jerry Huntsinger, direct mail fundraiser, who suggested offering donors the choice of a car or cash. The monkey wrench was that Consumers never endorses products.

But a work-around was discovered.

They decided to describe the car as a mystery car tested by Consumer Reports and found to be a top-rated model. The raffle was conducted over an entire year with many mailings. According to Cary, response took a dramatic upturn, and donations skyrocketed.

Two tips to improve your campaign

The next refinement involved adding an Early Bird.

Now, donors could win $5,000 with every mailing, which added immediacy and moved the needle quite a bit. The cash award subsequently dropped to $2,500, with donations staying about even.

Ironically, according to Cary, no one ever picks the car (or other prize). Everyone chooses the cash. But the sexiness of the offer captures their imagination. He finds that a low key creative treatment yields better results. The more the mailer screams contest, the worse it performs.

As a result of Cary’s experience at Consumers Union, he became a big believer in sweeps and raffles.

Now that he’s moved over to United Spinal, Cary has been running a sweeps with a $5000 cash prize or TV, which he says works very well.

To ensure the offer runs smoothly, he uses an independent sweepstakes judging agency (Ventura Associates) to handle the legal details. This also assures donors that an independent party is selecting the winners.

The aforementioned United Spinal offer was tested in 2007 and rolled out in 2008.

The United Spinal mailer mentions the raffle on a buck slip, and sometimes on the outer. They rotate packages, one 6 x9, another 4 x 8, and enclose a letter, brochure, reply envelope, freemium (note cards or labels), buck slip and reply device.

United Spinal has tried email marketing but has not ventured into online sweeps. “Online marketing is growing but it hasn’t been great for us. Most of the money comes in through the mail,” Cary reported.

Take the guesswork out of your next marketing campaign…

Schedule your Free 20 minute consultation on your #1 marketing challenge.

To get started today simply give us a call at 203 371-0654. 

Or if you prefer…

click the link and request your free
integrated marketing solutions
consultation >>>

We’ll take your NEXT niche marketing campaign from concept to completion.

Either way the choice is yours…