CASE STUDY: Institute's class project shows Chicago group direct options

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A donation of direct marketing expertise has helped the non-profit Scholarship & Guidance Association boost response rates to its fund-raising mailers.

The association was the beneficiary of a case study by students at DePaul University's Institute for Interactive & Direct Marketing.

"We take a set of techniques that have been practiced for years, and try to apply and help people who need a lot of help: the non-profits," said J. Steven Kelly, director of the DePaul program.

The Scholarship & Guidance Association, founded almost 90 years ago to give scholarships to keep poor children out of the workplace and now helping children with emotional and behavioral problems stay in school, saw the DePaul program as a means of jump-starting its marketing efforts.

"The funding environment for non-profits is more and more competitive," said Chris Kadow-Dougherty, director of development for the group. "We needed to be more strategic in our marketing and be more aggressive in promoting ourselves."

The association has beefed up its marketing budget by 60% and adopted many of the students' suggestions.

The most recent mailing included details about how donations specifically benefit individuals, and for the first time in several years, the mailing list included lapsed donors. Ms. Kadow-Dougherty noticed an increased response rate with the mailing.

"Many organizations haven't taken the time to look at their service in a marketing sense," Mr. Kelly said. "People are heart and soul involved in the service they provide. Their energy isn't in marketing. If you are more sophisticated at [marketing], you can become better at doing what you do."

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