RBIS’ SightFlight, a nonprofit flying eye hospital, increased its donor file by 15 times after testing aviation lists.
The organization’s core file of 2,000 jumped to 30,000 just 18 months after the company designed a direct mail piece that included a detailed diagram of the plane and began testing donors “with an aviation aspect” in addition to traditional contributors.
An added bonus? While the average response rate remained consistent at about 1.5%, the average gift rose from $15 for the traditional donor to $26 for the newly discovered aviation giver. “It was an instant success,” says Peter He, manager of donor relations for SightFlight, New York.
The most recent 750,000-piece August mailing consisted of 16% rented aviation names.
Once dependent on federal grants that have diminished in size over the years, SightFlight, which has operated out of a DC-10 in 77 countries since 1982, turned to direct mail in December 1996 to attract contributors.
At the time only 5% of its database comprised donors with any connection to aviation, compared with 25% today.
To entice these individuals, the creative includes a layout of the plane and its interior, showing off the classrooms, operating room, recovery area, and laser and sterilization areas.
SightFlight is analyzing its database to determine how to convert these lofty donors into long-term contributors. It may add more of a “taste of aviation” in future direct mail packages, He says.
Aviation donors aren’t the only givers SightFlight is after. During the organization’s winter campaign-it mails 10 times a year-it plans to begin targeting ethnic groups. The December mailing will include 20,000 pieces targeted at Chinese and Indian prospects.