ADA Reworks Diabetes Renewal, Acquisition Mailing

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The American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, VA, is rolling out its revamped renewal and acquisition direct mailing campaign. The program is being planned around the results of fiscal year 1998's year-long test of a new mail piece that helped to identify a donor group of 500,000 people responsible for nearly $8 million in donations last year.

The ADA decided that identifying and then targeting people with diabetes, and personalizing the mailings they received, would demonstrate the association's sincerity in its effort to help fight the disease and, at the same time, compel donors to give. To do this, the ADA simply put four check boxes in the upper right hand corner of its mailings asking donors and prospects to identify themselves as "having diabetes type 1 or type 2" or stating that "a family member has diabetes." The ADA had thought the question too personal but discovered that it was actually something people wanted to talk about.

"Those people that we identified and brought in tend to give larger gifts and continue to give more consistently throughout the year," said Joanne Delgiorno, director of direct response marketing at the ADA.

This year's mailings, both acquisition and renewal, are being dropped at an average of about 7,000 pieces a month. By the end of the year, the ADA will have sent out 18 million acquisition pieces and 9 million renewal pieces.

The ADA will not be sending any more mailings to its donors based on the new information; however, according to Delgiorno, the benefit to having that knowledge is twofold. It will allow the ADA to talk to donors on a more personal level and also will allow it to design customized mail pieces that differ from everything else people receive in the mail.

"It allows us to move more toward conducting a one-to-one marketing program, which I think is missing in a lot of fundraising mail pieces," she said. "It all starts to look the same; and the more personalized you make it, the more they will appreciate it."

People who have been identified as having diabetes now represent 36 percent of the ADA's 2.2 million active donor file and last year were responsible for 45 percent of the donations it raised. Those donors are primarily responsible for a 14 percent increase in the amount of donations raised last year. n

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