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DM Rules Still Apply for Nonprofit Cataloger

When it comes to prospecting for its Cards and Gifts Collection catalog, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF follows the same golden rule as for-profit catalogers: Target prospects with an affinity for mail-order purchases.

“In essence we look upon ourselves as a mail-order company whose profits benefit children,” said Jennifer Monson, national director of greeting cards at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, New York. “Just because a person may have a propensity for charitable giving does not automatically make them mail-order buyers.

“Yes we support a wonderful cause but we always have to be mindful that we are one more product line facing the American consumer,” she said. “The product has to be wonderful, and the prospects have to have an affinity for mail-order purchase.”

UNICEF consists of 37 national committees. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF is responsible for advocacy, fundraising and sales in the United States.

The first drop of the fall/winter Cards and Gift Collection 2001 was July 30 to 1 million house file and prospect names. There will be three drops totaling 3.5 million catalogs. The next two mail dates are Sept. 11 and Oct. 16.

Of the 3.5 million books, 36 percent will be mailed to UNICEF's greeting card buyer house file while the remainder will go to prospects. Among the prospects are names from buyer lists of other nonprofit organizations but no names from donors to other nonprofits.

Monson does prospect to UNICEF's donor house file, however, with a good success rate. She attributes this to the donors as already supporters of UNICEF and, therefore, more likely to continue their support through making a catalog purchase.

A UNICEF donor turns into a very good prospect to become a buyer and vice versa, she said. Still, the UNICEF greeting card buyer house file performs about three times better than all prospect lists including UNICEF donors.

Among prospect files, results vary from mailing to mailing as to whether buyer files or UNICEF donors perform better.

So far, Monson said, the first catalog drop was pulling a 2 percent response rate overall, though she was unable to break out results further. She said that is a good start, especially since it is a bit early for consumers to be thinking about holiday merchandise.

The UNICEF catalog has been mailed for more than 30 years with a product line that changes with the times, Monson said. This year it contains an array of holiday cards and gift items as well as a note card set featuring the artwork of former Beatle Paul McCartney.

“We have always had cards designed by great masters like Monet and Chagall, but this is the first time that I've seen one by someone contemporary,” Monson said.

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