SQN Moves to Expand Nonprofit Base

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Spurred by a dip in assignments from nonprofit clients immediately following last Sept. 11, SQN Communications Design began a campaign this month to broaden both its customer base and type of assignments it handles.

"For three weeks after Sept. 11 we saw almost all of our nonprofit clients stop mailing," said Brent Stinar, SQN's director. "We had a variety of other clients that we could continue working for, but for a while there was some uncertainty as to when and if it would be appropriate to start fundraising through the mail again. Organizations began mailing again about a month after."

SQN, Vienna, VA, works mainly with mid-sized to large nonprofit organizations including the YMCA of Metropolitan DC, The Nature Conservancy, The National Park Foundation, Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, The Museum of Modern Art and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Though the company generally focuses on brand development, it decided that expanding its work in other areas would help alleviate such dry spells.

"We have always done a lot of brochures and annual reports and a lot of evergreen pieces for people," Stinar said. "We want to get more heavily involved with organizations and companies doing direct mail work."

The effort to bolster its direct mail offering began late last year by adding staff with a direct mail background. Planning for the campaign began shortly thereafter, and the direct mail pieces went out at the beginning of the month to more than 400 nonprofit organizations that conduct direct mail fundraising.

The piece went to an internal list. Stinar said the names came from current customers and people the firm either talked to or met at events over the past year. Stinar said 70 percent of the mailings would go to prospects. The list includes directors of fundraising and other decision makers at nonprofit organizations.

The piece arrives in the form of a postcard mailer, but opens to an 8.5-by-11-inch, two-page booklet that is divided into four panels. Two of those panels give thumbnail-style images of the work SQN can create, including information pieces, Web design, annual reports, newsletters, collateral and direct marketing materials.

Another panel contains a short introductory message from SQN telling nonprofits that "as a full-service design firm, we are comfortable handling all facets of a project or campaign, from concept and planning through creative and design, to production and print management." The text is followed by the company's mailing address, e-mail address and Web address, www.sqn-design.com.

The last panel is a perforated business reply card that asks recipients whether they are interested in receiving more information or wish to have their names removed from the mailing list. Those who want more information are asked for their telephone number and e-mail address.

A second mailing using the same piece and targeting the same audience will drop shortly after Labor Day, Stinar said.

The total cost of the campaign was less than $1,000.


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