Crossroads Centre Banks on Famous Founder for Initial DM Efforts

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility Crossroads Centre of Antigua is drawing on the fame of founder Eric Clapton for its first fundraising campaign.

Though the organization was formed in 1997 with the treatment facility opening in 1998, Crossroads had avoided direct marketing until teaming with Internet Marketing firm Kintera this fall to create a fundraising site and e-mail campaign.

The Web site opened Nov. 27 and the first e-mails went out this month to 25,000 Clapton fans in the United States. Both the e-mails and site offer merchandise from Clapton's world tour in return for donations. Donors of $100 to $249 receive a T-shirt, for example, while $250 to $499 donors get a tour jacket and donors of more than $500 receive an autographed tour program.

“Mr. Clapton is on tour and that has been getting a lot of publicity and press so it seemed like a great fit,” said Kim Chapman, admissions and marketing manager at Crossroads.

“It's really cause-related marketing at its best,” said Susan Daniher, vice president of marketing at Kintera Inc., San Diego. “They took the best of what Eric Clapton fans are looking for and the best of what they can bring to the nonprofit and put them together.”

While sending e-mails costs little, the expense of renting addresses can be cost prohibitive for nonprofits. Crossroads Centre did not have to worry about that, however, as it used e-mail addresses provided by Clapton's record label, Reprise Records, which operates the official Eric Clapton Web site. Fans opted in at the site to receive news and updates about Eric Clapton.

Daniher was optimistic about the campaign, but said it was too early for results.

“Since we haven't sent an e-mail to this base before, it is hard to gauge what the response will be, but we typically see about an 8 percent conversion rate from opening the e-mail to donating,” she said. “Because Crossroads Centre has set up a good cause-related offer with the free tour gifts they should hit this mark.”

The Web site alone has generated $15,000 in donations since its launch.

Following up on the e-mails to U.S. fans, Crossroads and Kintera will send another 50,000 e-mails to Clapton fans in Japan later this month. Those names will also come from the official Clapton Web site.

A future e-mail to fans will contain a viral element encouraging fans to forward it to friends, said Daniher. The site also has what Kintera calls a “Friends Asking Friends” feature that allows visitors to e-mail a link to the site to others. In another attempt to drive traffic to the Web site, Kintera planted links on both the official Clapton Web site and other Web sites devoted to the musician.

Though Crossroads Centre has not done any direct mail to date, Chapman said that a postal campaign will be coming in the near future. Like the e-mail campaign, it will most likely focus on Clapton's appeal.

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