2 min Read
September 22, 2009

In a struggling economy, an award-winning year-end appeal

We Ducks are proud to announce that one of our integrated fundraising campaigns has won an award from FundRaising Success magazine! We learned earlier this month that the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy 2008 Year-End Appeal tied for the bronze in the Multichannel category. Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD) is a long-time client of Big Duck, and they work to end Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal genetic disorder that affects boys. The 2008 year-end appeal combined print and online elements and built on the momentum of a very successful integrated year-end campaign that we developed for PPMD in 2007.

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest questions we had going into the 2008 campaign was what effect the foundering economy would have on the results. Matching or bettering the previous year’s success was probably unrealistic, but could we keep the difference small or possibly avoid a decline altogether?

Crafting the campaign

We started by creating an overarching concept–“Let’s create more milestones together”–that we applied to a print piece and a series of five emails. Since boys with Duchenne generally survive only until their late twenties or early thirties, reaching life’s milestones is an emotional topic for parents and families. The direct mail card dropped before Thanksgiving, the email series began that same week with a cultivation message. Three fundraising appeals followed over the month of December, and the series wrapped up with a thank-you message in early January. The imagery used in the campaign included a moving picture of a mother and her son with Duchenne and a timeline of major life milestones.

Cover of the direct mail card

Inside of the direct mail card

Over the course of the holiday season, we tied the campaign appeal to other aspects of PPMD’s online experience: banners on their website; integration with PPMD’s community site; a splash page, live for a week in December in place of the usual homepage; unique donation landing pages; and promotion in PPMD’s monthly eNewsletter.

How did we do?

Overall, while we didn’t manage to buck the trend of declining fundraising returns across the nonprofit sector, we were heartened to see a relatively minimal decline from 2007.

  • Raised nearly $350,000 (an 11% decline from last year’s total), of which 18% came in online
  • Average gift was $586.39, representing over a 17% increase from the year before
  • 89 new online donors

The 2008 campaign garnered fewer gifts than the previous year’s, but it successfully motivated PPMD’s core constituency and inspired them to give as generously as they could, even in the face of tough times. We were also pleased to find that PPMD’s emails, which usually perform better than industry standards in terms of open and click-through rates, continued to perform well throughout the 2008 year-end appeal–an indication of their community’s continued interest in engaging with and hearing from them. Thanks to FundRaising Success for the award, and congratulations to Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy on another award-winning fundraising effort.

Bronze medal photo courtesy of / CC BY 2.0