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Associated Humane Societies’ Fundraising Mailing Generates a 15% Response Rate

Nonprofit Fundraising Direct Mail Case Study


Associated Humane Societies

Animal Rescue Non-Profit

Direct Mail Fundraising

15% Response Rate and $94,619 Raised


The Associated Humane Societies has been helping animals for over a century and is the largest animal sheltering system in New Jersey.  Founded in Newark, NJ in 1906, the current home of its executive offices and the largest of its three shelters, the Society expanded over the years to include a facility in Tinton Falls and later, another in Forked River. In 1977, in providing a lifelong home to a raccoon whose injury precluded him from ever surviving in his own environment again, Popcorn Park came into being. This evolved into a refuge for exotics, wildlife, farm animals and birds who were victims of cruelty, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and more.

AHS/Popcorn Park strives to rescue and re-home as many animals as possible, to provide the highest quality of care, and offer permanent sanctuary when needed through several programs and Popcorn Park. Their additional mission is to prevent cruelty to animals through direct intervention as well as education through a variety of outlets in print and online media.

  Direct Mail Details

AHS regularly sends mailings to its donors to share information about the activities of the Society and to promote fundraising efforts. Ballantine, AHS, and their graphic designer Jeanne Balsam have been working together for over 7 years to design and develop these direct mail projects, which have included spring mailings, holiday mailings, and an annual calendar.

In the past, AHS had included personalized mailing labels with their spring mailer, but they recognized that many organizations, particularly in the area of humane services, use mailing labels as a front-end premium item, and they wanted to do something different. After brainstorming ideas, they decided to include a packet of flower seeds in the mailing, as this would catch the eye of the recipient and give them something to do, all while keeping AHS top of mind.

The direct mail package consisted of a 5″x7″ 4-color, 2-sided folded greeting card, a 2-color one-sided reply card, a 2-color one-sided business reply envelope, and an AHS branded seed packet, all contained in a 5.5″x7.5″ envelope. The profile for this mailing was purposely designed to be different than previous spring mailers, which had been in a standard letter format.

The team looked for pet-friendly flower seeds as well, since some popular flowers are toxic to animals.  The final choice was the johnny jump- up, and the colors of the flower also matched the color scheme of the printed materials.

The greeting card message highlighted animals that AHS had recently helped, showing specifically how donations are used to rescue abused animals, give them the treatment they need, and help them to find loving homes.


For AHS’s spring mailing, the target recipients were people who had donated to AHS in the last three years.  AHS performed significant list hygiene before the mailing was sent, resulting in a streamlined pool of recipients with a higher likelihood of responding.

At the conclusion of the spring fundraiser, AHS had received 4,730 responses out of 30,900 mailers sent for a remarkable 15% response rate.  The average donation was $20, resulting in a total of $94,619 raised. AHS was extremely pleased with both the response rate and the total donations for this drive and felt that the seed packet was a significant contributor to the success of the fundraiser owing to its uniqueness.