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AIDS Walk Cuts Costs With 'E-cruitment'

Gay Men's Health Crisis replaced more than one-third of its annual AIDS Walk New York direct mail recruitment packages with Internet “e-cruitment” this year, reducing fundraising costs by a little more than $5,000. The walk is scheduled for May 20 in Central Park.

A recruitment e-mail was sent to 12,000 people in mid-February, development manager Rob Ornstein said. The other 21,000 people on GMHC's AIDS Walk house file received a Valentine's Day-themed recruitment piece, a fold-over with the teaser “Who do you love?” and the answer — friends, brothers, neighbors, etc.

The mail piece takes participants through the registration process step by step and explains the awards if they meet fundraising goals — an official AIDS Walk T-shirt for raising $150 or more, a cap with $250 or more or a wristwatch with $500 or more.

The e-mail takes users to www.aidswalk.net/newyork/eregister.html, where they can register and download a walker's kit. The kit includes a printed registration form that can be used to register a friend, a sponsor sign-up sheet and fundraising tips.

A follow-up e-cruitment message was sent 10 days after the first one. A second direct mail recruitment was scheduled to be sent this month.

The e-mail has drawn 1,400 responses so far, and about 2,000 messages have returned as bad addresses, Ornstein said. Information is not yet available on responses to direct mail recruitment.

Each year, 35,000 people participate in AIDS Walk New York. The walk raised $4.3 million last year.

The AIDS Walk site went live four years ago, and GMHC has collected e-mail addresses from participants for the past three years. Though participants previously could register on the site, this is the first year the nonprofit has recruited participants by e-mail.

Ornstein hopes for greater use of the Internet in the future. Every reply form on direct mail recruitment asks for the participant's e-mail address.

“Each year we hope to get more and more e-mail addresses,” he said. “We're hoping to increase our e-mails to a level where we can reduce our mailing costs even more significantly.”

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