Kidney Group Tests National Campaign

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The Polycystic Kidney Research Foundation, Kansas City, MO, is in the middle of its first national direct mail campaign to raise money, promote research and quicken the search for a cure for what is says is the most common genetic disease in the world.

The nonprofit foundation was founded in 1982. As part of the initial test Campaign for the Cure it sent out 50,000 mail packages nationwide late last month. The mailing list includes names from fundraising lists for other genetic diseases and other healthcare foundations.

According to the foundation, 600,000 people the United States and nearly 13 million worldwide have polycystic kidney disease. Present from conception, the disease leads to the formation of numerous cysts on the kidneys. It eventually destroys a person's ability to filter the toxins in the blood, leading to uremic poisoning.

The foundation is hoping the campaign will raise awareness about the disease and its symptoms as well as money for research to find a cure. This is the first campaign that will directly raise money for the organization.

The mail pieces are standard letters containing facts and statistics on the disease and information on the symptoms that people should look for. Requested gifts range from $5 to $25, but donors have the option to send more or less. Donations also can be made at the foundation's Web site at The foundation will offer free information on the disease just by returning the donor document.

The foundation raised $2 million last year through a telemarketing campaign, major donor solicitation and sponsorship programs. It hopes to raise $5 million with this new campaign.

"We are a rapidly growing organization, and we want to keep expanding our donor base," said Dan Larson, president and CEO of the foundation, "and now we want to see if there are others who are interested in helping our cause."

If the test campaign reaches its intended goal, the foundation will roll out its official campaign this fall. By 1999, it hopes to expand the frequency of the mailings to six times a year and send out 10 million to 20 million mail pieces.

According to Larson, only 100,000 people of the 600,000 in the United States who have the disease are aware of the fact.

"This campaign could help us alert and identify those who do not know they have the disease," he said. "We can then help them manage this condition."

The timing of the campaign is significant because Larson said researchers are "on the cusp of finding a treatment" for the disease and "this may help put us over the top."

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