The SCA Method
Imagine if you could personally talk to every donor in their own home, having their undivided attention to make the strongest possible appeal for your organization. That is the unique power of major gift video story telling created by Stephen Clouse and Associates.
Stephen Clouse & Associates’s one-of-a-kind, high-impact multi-media direct mail packages persuade ordinary givers to invest fully in your organization and its mission. The result:
- Larger gifts
- More loyalty
- Increased donor retention
Studies show that about 83% of human learning occurs visually.
Three days after a presentation, people retain:
SCA’s multi-media storytelling direct mail packages make lasting impressions on donors and transform them into passionate advocates.
As a result, Stephen Clouse & Associates is able to compress an average 8.9-year donor cultivation and upgrade process into just a few weeks.
SCA’s multi-media direct mail packages don’t just request contributions. Our approach upgrades donors — often motivating supporters to contribute 3, 5 or 10 times more than they ever have before.
What is multi-media major gifts fundraising?
The typical Stephen Clouse and Associates (SCA) mail package contains both a high-quality documentary-style video and printed presentation of an organization’s story and fundraising message. The printed presentation typically includes the letter, a “prospectus” and other enclosures that help make the case for a major gift. We rely on a video component because so much more can be communicated with pictures and sound than with just print on paper alone. Studies show that about 83% of human learning occurs visually. . Three days after a presentation, people remember . . . 10% of what they hear 35% of what they see And 65% of what they see and hear By seeing and hearing your presentation in a dramatic documentary-style video, your supporters will not merely “understand” your mission intellectually; they will “feel” its importance in their hearts. It is not uncommon for this powerful multi-media technique to inspire donors to contribute 5, 10, or 20 times more than they ever have before. Not only do ordinary donors become major givers, they often continue to contribute at this high level every year for years to come.
What makes the Stephen Clouse and Associates method different from other fundraising methodologies?
The SCA method enables an organization to identify potential major contributors who may be “hiding” on the donor file as lower dollar donors. These donors usually only realize their full potential as major givers after years of careful cultivation - often including personal appeals from the head of the organization. In fact, for most non-profit organizations, studies show that it takes an average of 8.9 years of continuous cultivation and upgrading to produce a $100,000 gift. But a SCA multi-media major gift mail program compresses this process into a few short weeks. The SCA package succeeds because it reaches a wide audience of donors with a high-impact presentation. Your SCA multi-media major gift mail program literally takes the place of a personal visit in the home of the donor.
Why the emphasis on major gifts?
The economics of fundraising has changed significantly over the last two decades. In the 1980s, an organization could expect to receive 80 percent of its net income from the top 20 percent of its donors. This was the old “80/20 Rule.” Today, this “80/20 Rule” has become more like the “95/5 Rule.” That is, a correctly-run fundraising program can expect to generate about 95 percent of its net income from the top five percent of its donors. This is happening is large part because of the rising cost of traditional low-dollar direct mail fundraising, which is making low-end donors less economically viable. The traditional low-end direct mail donor is a vanishing resource. The good news is: an organization doesn’t need many new $1,000, $10,000 and $100,000 givers to make up for all those disappearing $5, $10 and $20 givers. We have found that focusing on the top end of a donor file with SCA’s multi-media major gift mail program is actually generating exponentially more net revenue for many of our clients. Not only are SCA’s multi-media packages producing many new $1,000 gifts from donors who had never before given more than $50 or $100, but they have produced scores of $10,000, $100,000 and even $1,000,000 gifts.
What might we expect from a Stephen Clouse & Associates major gifts fundraising program?
So far, every organization that has tried an SCA multi-media major gift mail program has either repeated the program or has told us they plan to implement one in the near future. A number of SCA clients have made this an annual program for their organizations. For example, an SCA multi-media major gift mail program for a presidential property generated more than $5,000,000 in donations, pledges and bequests. The 2005 mail program generated 170 gifts in the $1,000 - $4,999 range; 23 gifts in the $5,000 - $9,999 range; 4 gifts in the $10,000 - $24,999 range; 12 gifts in the $25,000 to $49,999 range; 2 gifts for $50,000; 1 gift for $100,000; 1 gift for $250,000; and 1 gift of $1.5 million. Another mail program for a university-affiliated organization netted more than $65 per-name mailed; produced an average gift of more than $700; and doubled the fundraising program’s net revenue. A mail program SCA conducted for a major public policy organization in Washington, D.C. generated 400 supporters who made their first-ever contribution of $1,000 or more, including several six-figure gifts. The results of an SCA program will vary by organization – and will depend on the strength of the project and the maturity of the housefile.
Is the Stephen Clouse & Associates program only for the top end of an organization’s house list, or is it economically possible to prospect for major givers?
SCA has had surprising success finding major givers by mailing its high-impact multi-media packages to prospect lists. For example, SCA’s prospect program for a presidential property in 2005 brought in $2.5 million from people who had never contributed before. The net income from this mailing was $1.8 million. In fact, we highly recommend you use the SCA program to find brand new major givers who have never before contributed to your organization.
How many $100 and up donors does an organization need to make a Stephen Clouse & Associates multi-media major gift mail program economically viable?
Because of the substantial production cost of the video documentary portion of the program, the high-impact packaging, as well as the time involved in producing this kind of mailing, your housefile list most likely will need to include at least 3,500 donors who have contributed $100 or more to your organization within the last 18 months. We have found that these packages perform well with donors whose highest previous gift is as low as $50. But SCA packages gain the most traction among those who have contributed $100 or more.
What is the cost of a Stephen Clouse & Associates program?
Cost factors will depend on quantity mailed. The single largest cost in an SCA project is creating and producing the video component. For maximum results, SCA uses a very high-quality, documentary-style video created by one of the nation’s top commercial videographers. SCA also offers two program levels. One is the standard design. The other is high-design. Both packages are striking in their impact on donors and a distinct departure from charitable solicitations likely to appear in the donor’s mailbox. But the most relevant question really is not: “What does the program cost?” The most relevant question is: “What is the return on investment for the organization?” Every client we have worked with has either done the program again, or has told us they fully intend to do the SCA program again – which speaks to its productivity.
What is a “transformational gift”?
SCA prides itself in finding what we call “transformational” gifts for organizations. This is a gift at the $100,000 or higher level. People do not contribute at this level unless you strike exactly the right chord with your presentation, and unless you can demonstrate that a gift at this level really will produce the impact you are claiming. When people give at this level, they are looking to leave a legacy gift. They are looking to have an impact that will last for generations...that will make a permanent difference. SCA’s high-impact, multi-media presentations have a long track-record for producing this level of transformational gift for our clients.
What can a Stephen Clouse & Associates program do for our organization?
Non-profits are faced with two big problems: Diminishing net income from traditional direct mail programs; and The impossibility for development departments to meet personally with every donor to find out who might be able to make major contributions. Traditional direct mail packages are unable to inspire donors consistently to make major gifts and transformational gifts. And development departments have no efficient way of even knowing who, among the many thousands of seemingly ordinary donors on their housefile, have the potential to become major givers. An SCA high-impact multi-media major gift program helps solve both of these problems. By inspiring a large portion of your seemingly ordinary givers to contribute 5, 10, or 20 times more than they have ever contributed previously, you will add exponentially to the productivity of your direct mail program. And you will quickly find thousands of hidden major donors on your housefile who can now be cultivated to contribute at higher and higher levels. A process that usually takes many years now can happen in a matter of weeks.
What They Say
"Your team’s creativity and professionalism, as well as attention to the smallest detail, has been truly impressive. What you’ve produced is compelling and I have no doubt will motivate our members to support our programs at higher levels than ever before."
"Stephen Clouse & Associates are the experts in accelerating the process of finding supporters who are most interested in making mega gifts to your organization. "
"We have done four major video projects with Stephen and have been very pleased with the results from each mailing. Stephen has a clever ability to capture on video the ideas and emotions needed."
"The video you produced was first rate. Your writers captured the important elements of our programs and the video portrayed our programs and people in a compelling manner. Your work helped make our Heritage Leadership for America campaign such a success."
"Thank you for discovering a whole new crop of Mount Vernon friends who will provide an extra boost for our programs for years, if not decades, to come."
"I sent a letter to a number of conservative organization heads, following the first video project, to let them know about the remarkable success we had. Based on my experience, I highly recommend Stephen Clouse if you ever want to launch a similar project."
"Stephen really understands fundraising and what motivates people to give. He has great style and that is why his packages are so enticing. The letters that go inside his multi-media package are tremendously compelling."
""Stephen Clouse and Associates is outstanding in its professionalism, knowledge of fundraising, work ethic, and integrity, and great to work with as well. We completed our fifth video project with them recently. Since SCA began producing our major donor video project, the number of members in our major giving club has increased by almost 60 percent. We are grateful to Stephen and the team.""