Sparking Ideas

Recognition For Your Passion

No matter what industry you work in, it is always gratifying to be recognized by your peers for your hard work and accomplishments. It is even more gratifying when that recognition is for something you are passionate about.

For the past three years, my team and I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC). We have enjoyed playing our small but integral role as integrated marketing partners, by helping the museum achieve their fundraising and membership goals.

Recently, The Lukens Company (TLC) was awarded two Fundraising Excellence Awards from FundRaising Success Magazine. The first was a Silver Award for our work with AIC on the 2013 Cyber Monday campaign. This generated 1,053 memberships and $87,824 in gross revenue in just one day – almost four times the revenue than the year before! The second was a Bronze Award for the 2013 Year-End Appeal that resulted in $158,895 in gross revenue. By utilizing a multi-channel campaign, we reduced the cost to raise a dollar by 15 cents compared to the previous year-end campaign. 

It is hard to put into words how proud I am of our team for their hard work. I see the passion and effort they put into helping AIC achieve their goals on a daily basis. The fact that they have been recognized by a group of their peers for this is truly humbling. From copywriting to mail production, graphic design to web development, digital advertising, data, analytics, and account management; we couldn't have had a better team working together. And, I’m excited that they received the recognition they deserve! 


All the best, 

Marie Kosanovich | Account Director


Amazon Hopes to Make You Smile

If a large online retailer offered to give your non-profit a share of purchases made by your supporters would you be excited? Last year, that’s exactly what Amazon.com began doing.

Your members and supporters could be sending you a portion of the money they spend online right now. Which sounds great; but is it the right move for your organization?

Here are the details.

Amazon will donate 0.5% of eligible sales to a charity of the purchaser’s choice... The catch? They have to purchase their goods through a different URL than that usually frequented by customers.

When visiting smile.amazon.com a customer adds items to their cart as usual, then selects which charity they want to support, from an available list of 501(c)3s. It's free for charities to sign up and there are no processing fees.

How to make it work for you!

For every $100 spent to purchase goods, only $0.50 (half of one percent) would be sent by the Amazon Foundation to your organization. Unfortunately, studies have shown that the “feel good” sensation people get when donating to a charity is roughly the same whether you gave $0.50 to the charity in the example above, or gave $20 directly.

For this reason, many non-profits have been hesitant to sign up for the program. In fears it would lower overall giving. This being said, a partnership could still be beneficial if you target your audience correctly.

For starters, avoid promoting this partnership to your members, gift membership buyers, or regular annual fund donors. We don’t want to run the risk that they stop buying gift memberships, because they purchased something on Amazon and supported you that way.

Instead focus promotion of this partnership to people who aren’t supporting your organization financially. These would be long-term lapsed members and people who have been supporters for over a year, but still haven’t given. This will ensure that any money you receive off their purchases is likely money the non-profit wouldn’t have gotten any other way.

How to use smile.amazon.com to support your non-profit

Due to the small purchase share you will receive, I’d recommend utilizing affordable email and site creative to keep marketing costs minimal.

    •  Use email to promote smile.amazon.com to lapsed and inactive supporters, asking them to make all of their Amazon purchases using this new link

        —  After the non-profit signs up, you can announce the partnership with Amazon and how it helps your mission

        —  During holiday season send emails letting lapsed and inactive supporters know how they can assist your mission while buying the gifts they need

     •  Feature promotional material (image or light box) on the organization’s website , which:

        —  Reinforces the messaging from your email campaigns

        —  Provides ongoing awareness for supporters

To add your organization's name to the available list of charities, please visit org.amazon.com. Amazon will require information for a bank account associated with the non-profit so Amazon can transfer funds into their account.

Kristopher Morris is a Digital Strategist at The Lukens Company, a direct-response marketing firm in Arlington, VA, specializing in integrated multi-channel digital and direct mail campaigns for political and non-profit clients. He specializes in digital advertising and audience analysis to bolster community development, fundraising, and election efforts; with a focus on performance-based ROI. A veteran political strategist, Kristopher has a background in Congressional, state, and national operations. Contact Kristopher at 703.845.8484 or kmorris@thelukenscompany.com

This article appeared in Marketing AdVents, August, 2014.

Opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum

Today is the Opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

The Lukens Company has been honored to play a small role in the effort to build this amazing museum. With this opening, the museum will honor the victims, pay tribute to those who risked their lives to save others, recognize the extraordinary compassion and unity displayed by so many people in the aftermath, and attest to the triumph of human dignity over human depravity.

National September 11 Memorial Museum

Facebook’s New App Paper & Their Grab at Content Marketing

Content marketing is key to a sustained audience cultivation effort. After all, once you’ve brought in members, supporters, etc it’s what you provide and the stories you tell that will keep them engaged and help drive them through a cultivation process. To achieve a strong lifetime value people must continue caring about an organization so they will continue to invest in its future. Put plainly, content marketing is the art of crafting content that your target audience will find compelling, engaging, and valuable.

Paper, Facebook’s new mobile app, not only gives the site a fresh look;
it helps Facebook position itself as a content marketing platform.

New sections within the app segment news feed posts by content subject. For example, those interested in technology can see content on Facebook related to that interest, and so on through nineteen preset sections, in addition to the user’s news feed.

This tailored deliver of content should bolster response rates for newsfeed content that fit into one of the following subjects: technology, news, business, art, pop-culture, sports, food, photography, ideas, nature, urban-living, culture, family, cute pictures, humor, beauty, interior design, equality, and the GLBTQ community.

Simply adding Facebook into your content marketing mix won’t suffice to secure prime placement within sections either… Paper’s algorithm to generate these sections, weights content that is original to Facebook. This means that if you post the same thing on other social media sites, your eligible news feed post will display further down in the section; whereas varied “Facebook-only” content will be rewarded with higher placement within the app.

Examples of Paper AppEven the method Paper uses to display posts is geared toward promoting content and a “newspaper” feel – where the name for the app comes from. Standard text and link posts are designed to resemble paper while clicking on a link within a post, unfolds a link like a newspaper. Photo posts appear as thumbnail images that fill its post region.

Posts with images will be promoted via an image rotator that occupies over 50% of your smartphone’s screen, while all posts can scroll right to left along the bottom of your screen.

So what’s the best way to add Facebook into your Content Marketing mix?

  • Update your content marketing plan to include original messaging to be used only on Facebook
  • To drive action, utilize posts with links and a custom image (600px wide by 315px tall). Note: These posts will get promoted in the image rotator and retain the image in the post, while still allowing traffic to your site.
  • Use photo posts to keep your organization “front-of-mind” on Facebook. These will also get promoted in the image rotator, but make reading text and clicking a link more difficult.

Kristopher Morris is a Digital Strategist at The Lukens Company, a direct-response marketing Agency in Arlington, VA, specializing in integrated multi-channel digital and direct mail campaigns for political and non-profit clients. He specializes in digital advertising and audience analysis to bolster community development, fundraising, and election efforts; with a focus on performance-based ROI. A veteran political strategist, Kristopher has a background in Congressional, state, and national operations. Contact Kristopher at 703.845.8484 or kmorris@thelukenscompany.com.

This article appeared in Marketing AdVents, May, 2014.

The Lukens Company Hires Krista Harte Sassaman as Senior Account Director

TLC announced today that Krista Harte Sassaman has been hired as Senior Account Director. 

Krista comes to TLC with two decades of fundraising, marketing, and communications experience. Her approach blends data-driven strategic insight with targeted, donor-centric messaging.   

Krista holds degrees from the University of Virginia (BA) and Bowling Green State University (MA). She previously led client engagement for a wide range of organizations including the USO, the Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Jewish Health, Environmental Defense Fund, and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, among others.

In her role at TLC, Krista will lead client teams in developing multi-channel marketing membership and fundraising programs that drive revenue and deepen donor relationships.

“We are very excited to welcome Krista to the team,” said Walter Lukens, TLC Founder & President, of the hiring. “Not only will she bring a strong focus on client service to our team, but her solid fundraising background will greatly benefit our clients.”

We're all thrilled to welcome Krista to the team! Feel free to say hello and read more about Krista's background here.

Peering Into The Ether-Net

Change through technological advancement is the mainstay of digital advertising; and as such, you lead the charge, adapt, or find your strategies outdated and ineffective. The technological landscape advances rapidly so digital marketers must become early-adopters to test and develop tools we can use to communicate with an increasingly interconnected audience.

In 2008, integrating social media messaging emerged. In 2010, we began to aggressively advertise to consumers and supporters online. Likewise in 2012, retargeting through Internet-cookies and the ability to leverage consumer data online became the hallmarks to advanced digital campaigns. And by 2014, better audience and content analysis tools will allow us to finely target likely consumers/supporters and deliver messaging when they are interested in buying a product or taking an action.

Location Profiling

The advertising future promised to us in futuristic sci-fi movies is drawing closer, as mobile phones allow us to target and identify audiences based on an individual’s GPS location.

Recently advertisers began using a mobile phone’s GPS to serve ads relevant to their location. For example a person could receive a text message coupon for 25% discount on coffee, as they near a local coffee shop. The counter-point to this strategy is whether the promotion is bringing in people who would have walked by the shop; or if it’s simply allowing people who would have paid full price to get a discount, therefore decreasing revenue.

This technology is developing into a more mature strategy. By developing profiles from this location information we can tell the difference between regular customers and those who would add revenue. Therefore only these people would receive a discount as they near the shop.

Another strategy that will become more common, is reaching out to regulars of competitors and serving them promotions before they’ve made their decision to grab coffee. In this case a regular customer of Shop A, could receive a promotion for Shop B an hour before they normally head off to Shop A. This allows us to reach an audience before they’ve made a purchasing decision and grow business. Furthermore, these profiles would measure duration at a location, so we could remove likely employees from any marketing audience.

A political organization might use this strategy to reach members and staffers on Capitol Hill with messaging on how to vote on upcoming legislation. A museum could develop a local audience of people who frequent other museums and send them promotional materials to become a member or attend an exhibit.

Video-Content Advancements

In addition to new audience selection tools, our ability to target content will be enhanced by 2014; and with the continuing trend of video consumption migrating from broadcast to the digital space, video advertising will become more prevalent in persuasion/branding campaigns. To target video advertising, marketers rely on producer-generated descriptions and tags. These tags allow marketers to tailor video ads to content relevant to our goals; but what if the producer doesn’t accurately tag their content, to increase their ad revenue?

New content-verification technology allows ad networks and demand-side platforms (DSPs) to scan video content on the Internet to develop transcripts of the video’s audio. From these transcripts, advertising platforms will be able to accurately identify and target relevant content to marketers using video advertising.

Today’s emerging technology may become tomorrow’s standards. Our goal must be to ascertain which new prospects make the most sense, so we can test and adopt them early on, to continue pioneering digital marketing.

Expect to see these emerging technologies used to drive audience analysis and refinement in the next stage of digital advertising. Allowing us to shrink the digital space into highly targeted audiences using well-informed data and profiling technologies, to maximize campaign ROI.

Kristopher Morris is a Digital Account Manager at The Lukens Company, a direct-response marketing Agency in Arlington, VA, specializing in integrated multi-channel digital and direct mail campaigns for political and non-profit clients. He specializes in digital advertising and audience analysis to bolster community development, fundraising, and election efforts; with a focus on performance-based ROI. A veteran political strategist, Kristopher has a background in Congressional, state, and national operations. Contact Kristopher at 703.845.8484 or kmorris@thelukenscompany.com.

The Next Generation of American Giving: A Summary

Walter Lukens, Founder and President

The latest study from Blackbaud is out and it focuses on the charitable giving habits of each generation – specifically Matures (born 1945 and earlier), Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1980), and Generation Y (born 1981-1995).

This is one of the things I like most about Blackbaud. They support and fund very useful, high level thinking and The Next Generation of American Giving is one such effort that deserves your attention.

You can access the full report here, but the following are the key takeaways that impact our work together:

  • Matures are most likely to give to arts/cultural organizations (14%), followed by Generation X (7%), Boomers (6%), and Generation Y (4%). This is no surprise.
  • Engagement channels may not necessarily be transaction channels. For example, while there is little evidence that people donate through social media channels, there is growing evidence that social media plays a role in stewardship.  For instance, while I still want to use Facebook for transactions, it should not be viewed only as transactional but as a digital word of mouth vehicle that supports other channels.  It gets people in our target audience talking about your institution.
  • Channel by channel attribution is very difficult and often causes debates within organizations about who gets credit for which dollars. This is just one more example of why organizational “silos” are bad and why they need to slowly go the way of the dinosaur.
  • It’s no surprise that Generations X and Y primarily give online vs. postal mail. However, did you know that Boomers now give online (42%) just slightly more than they give via direct mail (40%)? This is a change since Blackbaud’s report in 2010.
  • 19% of Matures respond to a telemarketing solicitation, while only 6% of Generation Y donors and 7% of Generation X donors have given via telemarketing.

So what does all of this mean for your membership and fundraising programs? Well . . .

. . . looking at the landscape from 30,000 feet, we should all be very happy because there is a lot of  good news here!

First, Americans remain an incredibly generous and philanthropic people, regardless of generation. Just look at the high percentage of Gen X and Y that give in some way or another. 

In this country, being philanthropic is a learned behavior. We teach this to each successive generation of our children at home, in church and in school. This report suggests we continue to do a good job on passing on this important value.

Second, the paradigm of people donating more, joining more, getting involved more as they age remains intact. Once we get to a certain age, we become empty-nested, have higher levels of disposable income, have more time on our hands and begin to think about the legacy we are leaving our children.

One of the biggest debates among development and fundraising professionals is about whether or not future/younger generations going to give as much as current/older donors?

This report suggests that the answer is a resounding YES! 

And that’s spectacular news for all of us because as there are a huge number of baby boomers approaching the peak donation period in their lifecycle and they’re already very generous. According to the survey results boomers currently represent about 1/3 of all adult donors and contribute 43% of dollars donated.

Some of you have heard me use the vivid, albeit morbid, analogy of the rabbit in the mouth of a snake to suggest this seismic demographic shift. 

Well the Blackbaud report strongly suggests that the rabbit is fat. That the snake has only just begun to ingest its meal. And that the entire process could easily take the next 40 years and represent perhaps the largest wealth transfer in history.

So cheer up! And focus!

At 3,000 feet, we’ve got to remember that:

Multi-channel efforts are crucial now more than ever because all generations are active in each channel (donors may just have different preferences on which one they respond to).

Younger donors shouldn’t be ignored because they represent the future of our donor bases. Remember that younger supporters respond well to peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdsourcing.

It’s important for nonprofits to continue break down internal silos and share resources and data so that the goals of each department can be met.

While we would never recommend basing your acquisition, membership or fundraising strategies on the findings of any one report, this study does provide an important reminder that fundraisers must be aware of how age demographics can impact your efforts. Budgeting and strategy decisions should take your core donor base into consideration. And keep in mind that details like channel preference can shift in even just three years, as we saw with this recent update.

As always, feel free to call/email/write/text if you have thoughts or questions. 

What Do Gmail’s New Inbox Tabs Mean for Marketers?

Google recently rolled out a new inbox format that categorizes one’s inbox into different tabs. Tab options are Primary (emails from personal contacts), Social (social network-related emails), Promotions (marketing and offers), and Updates (bills, receipts, etc).

Gmail users can use any combination of these tabs, or none at all, with similar inbox formats across Gmail’s web and mobile applications. By default, one’s new inbox opens on the Primary tab, with the ability to toggle between tabs as preferred.


If you’re a Gmail user, you’ve most likely noticed this change—and the fact that marketing messages from both for-profit and nonprofit organizations are filed under the Promotions tab. (Note that the iOS default mail inbox does not have the tabs, but the Gmail app does).

So what does that mean for marketers (i.e. us!)? Initially, the change has prompted mass panic amongst email marketers, concerned that their messages will be exiled to oblivion and not seen by the intended recipient.

But in reality, people will check their Promotions tab and read the emails they care about, so those who are engaged with an organization will still identify its messages. Now, people may take the time to look at these non-personal communications at a time that’s convenient for them, so they may even be more apt to read or click through an email. This categorization may delay the actual email open if people do not check their Promotions tab as frequently, and this should be considered if including a hard offer deadline within email communications. Based on the email content and offer, it may make sense to allow for a longer deadline if email response time is not as prompt.

Another potential upside for marketers? Now your messages are only competing against other marketers, not personal emails, social networking updates, or bills.

There are proactive steps to help bypass this tabs system. TLC suggests including a line of text at the top of emails asking Gmail users to add your message to the Priority tab to maintain prompt receipt. For important emails (like your Cyber Monday campaigns, for example), we always recommend alerting followers of your message on Facebook and Twitter. Finally, if TLC manages your emails, you can rest assured that your Digital Services and Account teams will be closely monitoring email open, click, and purchase activity to ensure that the new inbox format does not adversely impact overall results. 

The Art Institute of Chicago and TLC Take Home Silver!

The Lukens Company accepted a silver MAXI Award on behalf of the Art Institute of Chicago’s 2012 multi-channel membership campaign. The Direct Marketing association of Washington’s awards program honors outstanding achievements in the field of direct marketing. Congratulations to the account team, digital staff members, and AIC for this exciting achievement!

Silver Award – The Art Institute of Chicago Lichtenstein Campaign

In May 2012, Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective opened at AIC. Having seen moderate success with a fully integrated multi-channel campaign for a non-blockbuster exhibit in 2011, AIC knew that a similar campaign surrounding this highly anticipated exhibit would have remarkable results.

The campaign consisted of three acquisition/lapsed mailings (January, March and April) and a digital advertising campaign that included cookie matching, which allowed us to target our ads to the same individuals receiving our direct mail package. The mailings were treated as a series rather than stand-alone campaigns with distinct messaging, since mail file analysis showed that historically there has been between 40-60% overlap in names from campaign to campaign. This strategy allowed us to tell a cohesive story not only across channels, but also throughout the direct mail series.

Testing has shown that digital advertising is best done no earlier than one month before an exhibit opens, so digital advertising launched in May. During the final two weeks of the digital campaign, we tested a mobile campaign that featured mobile-friendly short form and long form landing pages. This was done in order to capitalize on the final rush of visitors – record attendance numbers were reached during the final weekend of the exhibition. The mobile campaign was a search advertising-only campaign that targeted the same keywords and geo-targets used in the primary non-mobile digital advertising campaign.

Creative and messaging were consistent across channels – mail, digital advertising, mobile and landing pages. To maximize conversion rates, unique landing pages were created that first collected the users name and email and then directed the prospect to a longer purchase form where the conversion was completed. This allowed AIC to capture 962 email addresses, which would later be used for email follow-up and membership conversion.

The use of cookie matching to serve digital advertisements to a select group of individuals who also receive the direct mail piece makes this campaign truly innovative. Of the 520,000 households in the AIC acquisition file, 325,098 were matched to a cookie. Half were split out for a control group and the other half were served digital ads. Cookie matching alone provided a 50% lift in total purchases from the households who were served targeted ads!

Upcoming Conferences

It’s conference time again! Here are the upcoming conference sessions that The Lukens Company will present:

2013 Annual Bridge Conference

Washington, DC Gaylord National Hotel & Conference Center

Thursday, August 1 at 2:15pm

The Art of Storytelling: Translating Your Organization’s Story Across Channels

Every direct marketer knows the importance of good copy, but what does good copy look like exactly? And more importantly, how can you help your organization craft good copy? The key is to not simply communicate, but to tell a story – your organization’s story – by capturing the voice of your leadership, donors or those individuals that your mission supports. We’ll examine these ideas with a panel of nonprofit executives and seasoned copywriters. Beyond covering the basics of good storytelling, we’ll also explore how these fundamentals can be translated to digital channels, including email, digital advertisements and landing pages.

Association of Zoos & Aquariums Annual Conference

Kansas City, MO

Tuesday, September 10 at 4pm

Driving into the Data: What Visitors Are (and Aren’t) Telling Us

This session provides a comprehensive look at national data derived from leading researchers, and divines business trends, consumer insights and perceptions that can help aquarium and zoo leadership effectively manage their institutions.

Wednesday, September 11 at 10am

Know Your Visitors – How an Understanding of Visitor Experience Leads to Great Results

Every organization wants their visitors to have positive experiences. When your visitors and members are satisfied, they are naturally more likely to contribute either financially (with return visits or renewed memberships) or through positive word-of-mouth. In order to grow your guest experience from a good one into a great one and, in turn, increase the likelihood of that support, you must understand your visitors' expectations and motivations. This session will highlight the importance of gathering the data necessary to make those distinctions as well as how the findings can be applied to affect real, live results.