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Gay Rights Group Improves Its Successful Control

Though the Human Rights Campaign has yet to beat its control prospecting package, it has found a way to make it even stronger.

“We can't seem to beat [our control package], but one thing about the package that was kind of a surprise for us was the response to the HRC Partners option that we added,” said Ann Crowley, deputy director for annual giving at the Human Rights Campaign, Washington.

Human Rights Campaign is a nonprofit organization that lobbies at the federal level for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. It has 450,000 members and does prospect mailings four times per year.

HRC's control package for prospecting has been mailing for more than five years. Most recently, 250,000 pieces were dropped May 3. The control is a standard letter that includes an overview of legislative issues that HRC is working on as well as an HRC logo sticker and the offer of an HRC cap as a premium with a $44 donation.

On average, the control pulls a response rate of about 0.71 percent and a gift of $47.

“We've tested probably 10 to 12 different packages against it and cannot find anything to beat it,” Crowley said.

However, HRC in April 2001 included an option to the control that added the HRC Partners program to the list of how a prospective member could support the organization. HRC Partners are the organization's low-dollar sustaining group. Instead of giving a lump sum on a one-time basis, they give a minimum of $10-99 per month via credit card or electronic funds transfer.

The Partners program had never been used as part of HRC's prospecting appeals. Sixty-nine people responding to the April mailing took the Partners option in addition to a response rate of about 0.71 percent for the piece overall.

In the following August mailing, HRC added a line of copy about the Partners program at the bottom of the reply form. Even though the mailing arrived in homes the week of Sept. 11, HRC gained 61 new partners as well as an overall response rate in line with its 0.71 percent average.

So far, HRC has gained 123 new Partners from its January 2002 mailing, and the number is still rising by one or two per week, Crowley said. Response for the January mailing is a bit higher than 0.71 percent and growing, she added.

With the May mailing, HRC began testing 50,000 pieces with a special insert.

“The entire language is around the idea that for the price of a night at the movies you can be giving monthly,” Crowley said. It is too soon to gauge response to the test, she said.

Still, based on response to the Partners request in its prospecting efforts, HRC decided to forgo a Partners direct mail campaign to its house file this year.

The prospecting piece beat a house file mailing plea for Partners last year, Crowley said.

“I think there may be a saturation issue when it comes to soliciting our house file for Partners,” she said. “This year we're not doing a Partners invitation mailing but just a phone call, where in the past we've done both.”

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