Amnesty International Considers New Ways to Spark Up an Old Package

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Amnesty International is looking to update its 2-year-old Women's Action Council prospect direct mail piece, which has raised $500,000 and attracted 15,000 new members but is showing signs of fatigue, said Vivianne Potter, director of direct response at the organization.


One alternative being tested is the use of a 10.5-inch-by-9-inch envelope, larger than the 6-inch-by-9-inch control envelope. Amnesty International sent a 50,000-piece test mailing with the larger envelope in January but does not have results yet.


The control envelope contains a letter from Amnesty International executive director William F. Schultz, a letter and a signed photograph from actress Susan Sarandon, a Women's Action Council sticker, a prepaid business reply envelope and a charter membership reply card.


Depending on the results of the January test, Potter said she might change the color of the envelope, which is now purple, or modify the appeal in the letter.


The package was first used as a special appeal in June 1998 and was tested for acquisition in December 1998. When it earned a 1.3 percent response rate and an average gift of $35, it became a continuing acquisition package.


The package now goes out four or five times a year in mailings of 150,000 to 250,000 each, Potter said. The response rate remained steady at 1.3 percent for the first 18 months, and Potter made only minor changes to see whether she could improve performance. But the response rate has dipped below 1 percent for the last two mailings of 2000.


A June 2000 attempt to change the control package was a failure. Potter added a lower amount, $10, to the gift stream in a mailing of 50,000. The average gift dropped to $26, which was expected, but the response rate also decreased to 0.78 percent, which was the opposite of what was expected.


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