Offer Analysis: Covenant House Tugs Heartstrings with Second Notice Solicitations

1)      The Product:

Covenant House is the largest privately-funded childcare agency in the United States providing shelter and service to homeless and runaway youth. It was incorporated in New York City in 1972 and has since expanded to many cities in the U.S.A. including Houston, L.A., Philadelphia, Newark and Atlanta. The organization has also expanded into Latin America with initiatives in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.

2)      The Mail Piece:

The mailing was sent out in a standard envelope (4.12” x 9.50”), with “Importante: Segundo Aviso (Important: Second Notice)” emblazoned on the front. It served as a follow-up to the original mailing which was sent three weeks earlier. The initial solicitations usually contain some sort of small gift from Covenant House, such as a keychain, magnet, or bookmark.

The letter is directed at the recipient, and is meant to be a direct communication from Sister Patricia A. Cruise, president of Covenant House. It is written in the first person and is entirely in Spanish. It begins by saying that since Covenant House has not heard from the recipient following the initial mail piece, they thought the best thing to do would be to send a “recordatorio,” or reminder. It goes on to say, “Perhaps I am worrying too much and that your response is on the way. I hope that is the case.”

A full two pages long, the letter goes on to explain Covenant House’s policy of never refusing refuge and sustenance to a child in need.

The donor form itself contains the following (translated) message: “Thousands of helpless children will come to our doors this year in search of food, clothing, and a safe place to sleep. Will you help us help them?” Underneath, there are a variety of suggested donations with blank spaces next to them for the donor to fill in. The donations range from $12 to $100, with a blank space marked “other” where the donor can elect their own amount.

       3) The Response:

While Covenant House does not discuss specific response rates of their campaigns, vice president of direct response Joan Smyth Dengler stressed the importance of integrated campaigns with Hallie Mummert of Target Marketing in October of 2006. She said that Covenant House mails continuously and has found that engaging the target across platforms has yielded the best response. For instance, after a mailing is sent out, Covenant House will attempt to reach the recipient by telephone or email. Ms. Dengler said that the customers that they engage through multiple channels are the ones that are ultimately of most value.

NOTE: The Direct Mail promotions in this article were tracked by ParadyszMatera ( through its Market Relevance Promotion Library. ParadyszMatera is a media brokerage services company specializing in Direct Mail, Online Marketing and Creative, Print and Alternative Media. Additional research and interviews were conducted by Portada.

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Editorial Staff

Portada Staff


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