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The Planetary Society: A New Method to Engage Members
In the past, TPS members preferred to donate to specific, tangible projects, such as funding a particular piece of hardware needed for a space observatory. Although this type of funding is critical, The Planetary Society regularly needs unrestricted operating funds as well.
TPS was looking for a way to engage and interest members in the organization as a whole and to inspire them to give their unrestricted support, in addition to their ongoing restricted, project-specific donations.
Schultz & Williams Approach
The “Priorities Survey” asked members to share their interests in space exploration, rank TPS’ top priorities and disclose what they did or did not like about the organization. The letter and survey were sent from Jim Bell, who had just become the new President of the Board. In order to engage members, the letter was personal and informal – like Jim Bell himself.
The campaign included e-mails to support the mail piece and follow up with members about the survey results. Members were also encouraged to send messages on a customized webpage, www.telljim.planetary.org, and via Facebook.
The overwhelming response to the appeal was exactly the goal TPS was looking to achieve. The campaign was especially successful in engaging members who had not previously donated to a special appeal. In addition, the survey was able to identify several major donors looking to support specific projects.
The great success of this multi-channel effort was that it opened up the opportunity for TPS to have a true dialogue with its members.
Indeed, results of the survey were analyzed and then sent out from Jim Bell via e-mail to all Society members. This in turn energized the members even more; they turned to Facebook and other social media to discuss the results. President Jim Bell, founder Lou Friedman and other staff actively participated in these discussions online:
Overall, this multi-channel effort not only generated a significant amount of unrestricted funds, it also reinvigorated the entire member base – as well as staff, who were excited to participate!
With the new survey results, TPS was able to set an agenda that responded to its members’ interests and focus on projects that they wanted to fund. Most important, it generated good will and opened lines of communication with the TPS member population.
Schultz & Williams is a national consulting firm based in Philadelphia providing management, fundraising and marketing consulting for nonprofit organizations, along with full-service direct marketing, database and creative/production services.