Kosovo DM Push Sees High Return

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Final tallies are almost in for an emergency mailing done by Catholic Relief Services, Baltimore, for the Kosovo refugees in May and the "simple" mailer has, by far, turned out to be its most successful relief mailing yet. It has generated nearly 8 million dollars in donations in just a little more than two months.


"This is far and away record breaking for us," said Margaret Guellich, director of direct marketing at CRS. "I went back and looked at what other emergency situations had brought in and Hurricane Mitch is the closest with only $3.4 million. Others top out at between $1 million and $1.1 million."


CRS swept its entire file and sent a mail piece to every one of its 500,000 donors. The mailings, which were the first done by CRS, directly related to the refugee situation in Kosovo.


For Guellich, the numbers that the piece generated is not the only overwhelming factor of the campaign -- she said the response from donors that haven't made donations in almost four years was also "remarkable."


The active group of donors to CRS who have made a donation in the last 18 months gave more than $300,000. Lapsed donors, people who have not made a donation in the past 24-48 months, had a response rate of about 15 percent.


"There was a group of about 100,000 people who haven't made donations since the last refugee crisis in Rwanda and that was about four years ago," she said. "We mailed to them and the response rate was about 10 percent and their average gift was also higher than that of the lapsed donors. I think they responded the way they did because they are truly emergency donors."


Other groups who responded extremely well to the mailing were a group of donors who have indicated they will send gifts only when they want to, and another group who only make donations at the end of the year for tax regulations. These two groups responded at a combined rate of 30 percent.


"Due to the sheer emergency of the situation, I think these people wanted to give to an organization they knew and were comfortable with," Guellich said.


Overall the campaign has yielded an 18 percent response rate from every donor category.


The personalized piece was mailed in an envelope with the heading Kosovo Regional Emergency printed across the top of it. Inside, the mailer contained a return envelope and a single buck slip where donors could mark off how much they wanted to donate. CRS structured the donation choices depending on a donor's last gift. There was also a briefing of the situation in Kosovo along with a summary of what CRS has been doing there since 1992.


"A lot of our donors are well informed on the situation over there," Guellich said. New prospective donors were mailed in two different acquisition mailings. The first acquisition mailing, 500,000 pieces altogether, went out in early May with the drop to current donors and the second, totaling 1.5 million pieces, went out in mid-May.


"We acquired new donors and made money on both of the acquisition mailings," Guellich said.


The campaign included telemarketing and online efforts. CRS had just begun to start accepting donations online when the refugee crisis first started and managed to raise $350,000 in just three weeks without soliciting donations from any its donors via e-mail. Its telemarketing campaign, both inbound and outbound, had been in effect since March, and according to Guellich, many donors were contacted first through the phone and then through the mail.


"Some of them made donations at both times, over the phone and through the mail," she said.


Overall CRS has managed to raise over $25 million with the entire campaign. Direct mail is responsible for about $17 million of it, online donations reached a little more than $350,000, the telemarketing campaign raised $750,000 and the remaining amount came in the form of major gifts and donations from churches around the country, Guellich said.
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