It Pays to Pay Attention to What You’re Sending

Monica Turner

Today, Monica Turner reminds us if you run annual appeals (like the Mother’s Day appeal Monica discusses today), don’t just send the same thing year after year. ~Kristina

Guest Post by Monica Turner

One of my favorite quotes is “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I couldn’t help but think about that in early April while reviewing our upcoming annual Mother’s Day appeal.

Of course, we were on a pretty tight deadline to get the appeal into production. I pulled out the file from the last Mother’s Day appeal, along with those from two prior years.

The appeal asked recipients to make a donation in honor of their mother. In return, we would send their mother a Mother’s Day card as a keepsake acknowledgment. Donors could also send a gift in memory of their mother.

Sounded like a nice gesture, but somehow the appeal didn’t seem to be very appealing to donors. The response rate was just OK, as were donations.

The easiest thing to do, especially when time is limited, is just update last year’s version and move on to the next project. But easiest is not always the best option.

As I studied the Mother’s Day appeal, my first thought was that I’d prefer to buy my mother a card that I picked out just for her. I could make a donation in her honor, but the card wasn’t really that big of a deal to me. Then the second thought hit me:  Most of our donors are over 65 years old. Chances are most of their mothers have passed, so the card wasn’t relevant and probably evoked sad emotions for them.

That’s when thought number three struck, and as they say, the third one is a usually a charm.

Thornwell started as an orphanage in 1875. It has since morphed into a dynamic child services organization, but the residential program has always been the foundation of our ministry. The men and women who care for the children in our residential program are called family teachers. What about giving donors a chance to honor our family teachers for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?

So this year’s appeal read, “Your donation makes it possible for our family teachers to be mothers and fathers to children whose own mothers and fathers have let them down.”

We included a Thank You Family Teachers notecard and encouraged donors to write a note to our family teachers and return the card with their gift.

To date, the appeal has brought in more than three times the amount of last year’s appeal, and two prior years. And, almost every gift included a notecard with sweet notes that blessed our family teachers. Gifts are still trickling in, as are the notecards, and it’s now mid-July.

A new twist can breathe new life, and new revenue, into time-honored traditions. So don’t be afraid to color outside the lines. Sometimes it can triple your bottom line.

Monica Turner has worked in various sectors of marketing, media, and printing for the past 30 years. As a writer, designer and marketing professional, she has received over 70 awards in state, regional, national and international competitions. She joined the Mission Advancement Team as Communications Manager at Thornwell in Clinton, SC in September 2016. Throughout her career, Monica has served as art director, director of communications, editor, publisher, advertising director, customer service manager and entrepreneur.



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Author: Kristina Leroux, Community Engagement Manager

I am the Community Engagement Manager at Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com.

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  • Jill Gibson

    We are so blessed to have the vision and creativity of Monica Turner. Our ministry brings hope and healing to so many but we can only do this by communicating and honoring those that support these precious children.

  • I think you do a nice deed! I want to thank you because it`s important to mention our parents and to make them be impressed. You`ve found a nice way out.