E-mails yield fertile December for Planned Parenthood

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The Planned Parenthood Federation of America ended 2006 with a bang, raising more than $1 million online in December, nearly $300,000 more than in the previous December.
The campaign featured an aggressive series of e-mail appeals written by celebrities William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, Julianne Moore, Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda.
"Each of the e-mails connected with different people on our subscriber list," said Ted Kohnen, assistant director of Planned Parenthood Online fundraising, New York. "All of the celebrities are supporters of us and members of our board of advocates as well."
Planned Parenthood Online was created in January 2005 as a collaboration involving the national office (PPFA) and 48 of the 117 affiliates. The goal was to avoid bombarding donors and subscribers with e-mails from the national, state and local affiliates.
Online advocacy and messaging tools let affiliates opt out or locally tailor a message from the national office rather than create the content from scratch.
"We wanted to have a unified Web presence," Mr. Kohnen said. "This way people receive a message from one powerful voice."
This year Planned Parenthood Online aims to double the number of participating affiliates to more than 90 in order to maintain a collaborative Web presence and collaborative fundraising.
The organization's typical supporter is pro-choice and pro birth control. The average age of online donors is 42.
"We market to subscribers, and we are actively engaged in social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook," Mr. Kohnen said. "So far we have 16,000 friends on MySpace and are finding it a great tool to attract new supporters."
Besides the e-mail appeal, Planned Parenthood Online added a splash page on its site at www.plannedparenthood.org. When visiting the site, users were given the option to donate or continue on to the home page. This raised conversion rates by making it easier to donate, he said.
The nonprofit also created a matching gift challenge, where a major donor offered a matched $50,000 sum to donations made.
"We promoted the matching gift to the worst-performing part of our membership list," he said. "It managed to get them engaged, and we raised more than the $50,000 goal."
The Web site underwent a redesign in August to make it more user-friendly and easier to find donor information.
Planned Parenthood has begun pivoting toward its Prevention First campaign. The online and grassroots effort focuses on preventing unintended pregnancies. The marketing will lead to a National Day of Action on Feb. 13 and will include a mobile billboard circulating around Washington.
"We have a new Congress which is pro-choice and a new House speaker that is pro-choice," Mr. Kohnen said. "Now is the time to be proactive with reproductive rights legislation being put into action."

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