Bowery Mission Returns to Grizzard for Fundraising DM

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New York's Bowery Mission has gone back to the Grizzard Agency for direct marketing expertise to help raise funds in 2002.

The agency handled direct marketing for Bowery Mission from 1994 through 1998. After using a few other shops the past few years, the mission has named Grizzard's Lancaster, PA, office to its $750,000 account.

Incumbent agency Domain Group, Seattle, was the only other shop asked to pitch.

"The primary goal is to improve their return on investment," said Randy Brewer, senior vice president at Grizzard. He will oversee the account from his Pasadena, CA, office.

Grizzard has its work cut out with the Bowery Mission. Founded in 1879, the mission serves New York's homeless and hurting. It offers meals, clothing, showers and shelter. The goal is to get people off the streets. But since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York, many of its donors have contributed heavily to other causes or are suffering from the consequences of an ailing economy.

"The challenge they have unique to New York City is to create a dialogue with donors who, by nature, are flooded with offers, and how do we create a relationship with donors who are transient in nature?" Brewer said.

Grizzard first will try to lower costs for the Bowery Mission by having an affordable agency program. But it also will seek to raise the mission's donor-retention rate by improving the relationship with existing donors. This is to avoid "a program that is bent on cranking out a lot of mail," Brewer said. "What you find is you burn up your donors, you toast them and then they become angry."

Improving ROI is paramount. The mission gets about $3.75 for every dollar spent soliciting donations. Brewer aims to raise that amount to $5 or $6.

"They're spending more money, and their ROI is getting worse," he said.

Grizzard's services include direct mail programs for regular donors, middle donors and monthly donors, and newsletters feature prominently. Its media plan also includes a new donor Web page for online donations, newspapers, radio, billboards and placements in New York subway cars. Telemarketing is part of the mix, too.

"It's not so much outbound as much as inbound, where people can call them," Brewer said.

Mailers for gifts and planned-giving programs go out this month. The first drop goes to a cross-section of existing donors on the mission's file of 60,000 donors. A drop to new donors will follow mid-month.

Creative messages for the direct marketing effort will vary tactic by tactic.

But the overriding theme is "to rebuild the personal relationship that the donor has with the charity," Brewer said.

An 83-year-old agency, Grizzard claims to be the sixth-largest direct marketing agency in the United States.

A specialist in nonprofit direct marketing, Grizzard's clients include The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Rescue Missions, Children's Miracle Network hospitals and animal welfare and humane societies nationwide. The agency claims to have raised $300 million for these charities last year.

Its for-profit clients include United Parcel Service, Kroger Supermarkets, BellSouth Corp., Olan Mills, Baked Hams and Coca-Cola Co.

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