Non-profits: Religious organizations: Religious fundraisers know how it’s done

Christian organizations have a lot of experience direct marketing to Hispanics, especially when it comes to direct mail. It is not unusual for these non-profit organizations to get a 20% response rate to their direct mail campaigns. These impressive results make their experience relevant to corporate marketers, as well as newspaper and magazine publishers, who are interested in acquiring and strengthening their relationships with Hispanic customers.


Lucy Rázuri, manager of donor campaigns for San Antonio, TX based Oblate Missions, has been direct mailing to Hispanics for over 25 years. Oblate Missions, a development office supporting the international ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, does about 18 mailings per year. Continuity is an important component of their success with Hispanic patrons. “Our copywriter is a missionary himself. He has been with us for more than two decades,” says Rázuri.


Oblate Missions has had most success with mailings sent out around holidays, specifically Mother's Day, the celebration of Guadalupe, All Souls Day and Lent. The drops consist of 160,000 to 180,000 mail pieces. Response rates for Mother's Day and Guadalupe mailings can be as high as 16%. “Response rates to campaigns with a devotional component are very high. Humanitarian appeals tend to have response rates that are slightly lower, in the 8%-10% range,” Rázuri notes. Rázuri cautions that general figures can be deceiving since response rates vary from campaign to campaign.


Rázuri points out that annual donation totals from Hispanic donors in response to direct marketing are higher than totals for the general market. “Even though the average amount of their gifts is often on par with non-Hispanic donors, their multiplicity, or frequency of giving, is often much higher.” Oblates rents lists from other non-profit religious organizations such as Silesian Missions Former Spanish-Speaking & Hispanic Donors, The Association of Marian Helpers Spanish-Speaking Donors, as well as from marketers like Latino Direct Spanish buyers and Caliente Spanish Speaking Hotline. This year, Oblate Missions plans to relaunch its newsletter in order to better connect with donors.

Alternative Media?
Oblate Missions used to place FSIs inside Spanish-language papers, but that was over 15 years ago, and since then the organization has not used print to support its direct mail campaigns. Now Oblate is considering the feasibility of co-op mailings. While response rates for these “shared” mailings tend to be lower, they are also much less expensive. Oblate is revamping its website and will soon begin to make appeals on-line. Direct mail pieces already include Oblate's web address. “We've had lots of people contacting us over the Internet,” says Rázuri.


The Association of Marian Helpers also uses direct mail to make fundraising appeals to the Hispanic community. At a recent industry conference, Danica Parish, coordinator of the international Spanish program at The Association of Marian Helpers, emphasized that all communications should be written in Spanish. The Association of Marian Helpers publishes a free quarterly Spanish-language magazine called Fuente de Misericordia that is mailed out to all active members. The Association plans to increase active membership of Spanish-speaking patrons by 100% over the next 3 years. In order to achieve their goal, the organization plans to increase Fuente de Misericordia's distributioin by 200%.

Foreign borns give more
Foreign born and Spanish-dominant Hispanics make up a substantial portion of Hispanic direct mail donors to religious organizations. According to a recently published survey in the 2005 DMA Hispanic Market Report, “most direct donors (65%) were not born in the United States.” Rázuri's experience supports these findings. “We get a lot of calls from people who were born in Cuba, El Salvador and Puerto Rico,” she says. Average donations by Hispanic donors to religious organizations range from as low as US $2-$3 to as high as US $80 by Covenant House Spanish-speaking donors.

Hispanics respond to religion…

Response rates

As high as 20%. Higher for devotional appeals than for humanitarian appeals

Average donations

Wide range (US $2-$80)

Origin of donors

Many foreign born

Frequency of donations

Substantially higher than general market campaigns