I’m always urging you to give something new a try, and to mix it up a bit.

Here’s a great example: A Groundhog Day campaign from House of Charity in Minneapolis. Melissa Musliner, House of Charity’s Marketing & Development Director, is a Nonprofit Marketing Guide All-Access Pass holder.

“Many people give to the hungry and homeless around the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas,” explains Melissa. “We wanted to remind our supporters that our clients need to eat every day of the year. The result was our Groundhog Day campaign in February.”

House of Charity used an integrated approach with a direct mailing, their website, email, Facebook and Twitter.

Here is the video message from Executive Director Bert Winkel, which appeared on the House of Charity website.

[yframe url=’https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8Ruaz8U2qw’]

“We mailed the appeal to 595 donors. We targeted the mailing to individual donors who had given in 2010, but had not yet given in 2011 (our LYBUNTs), and others who had given within the past 5 years, but not recently,” says Melissa.

From the campaign, House of Charity received 41 gifts (6.89% return) for a total of $2,040. The average gift was $49.76. Three gifts were from new donors and 19 were from LYBUNTs. Fifteen were from donors who had given at least one gift between 2006 – 2009, but not since. Four donors made additional 2011 gifts.

“We were pleased to reengage with some of our lapsed donors,” says Melissa, “and we had a great deal of fun with the campaign!”

“We were tickled that our donors took the time to cut the groundhog out of the card and insert their gifts under his teeth. Several wrote notes on the groundhogs – such as ‘Clever!’ One of our donors noted that the groundhog did not see his shadow this year; she sent a gift anyway. A few children and at least one adult colored the groundhogs before sending them in,” says Melissa, who hung the groundhogs outside her office to show progress to staff and visitors.


Melissa credits a team effort for the campaign, including Marie Pauley, Marketing & Development Assistant; Michael Bennett, Director of Outreach & Volunteers (and the voice of the groundhog on Facebook videos); Bert Winkel, Executive Director (who appeared in the kick-off video), and Craig Nordeen, a contract designer who created the card.

“My only caution,” warns Melissa, “is that Groundhog Day is February 2nd. In retrospect, I think this is a little too close to the holidays, when we receive the majority of our gifts.”

Bravo to Melissa and her team for trying something new and sharing the results with all of us!