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Case Studies


Leprosy?  That ancient disease still exists?

American Leprosy Missions (ALM) is a global organization founded on a guiding principle to serve Christ by caring for those suffering from leprosy and related diseases, with an ultimate goal of bringing an end to leprosy through a vaccine.

Having developed a partnership with The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), ALM has invested $5.1 million into vaccine research and development.

And 15 years later… a product is ready for human testing.

The Challenge

The Lukens Company was tasked with helping ALM bring this groundbreaking medical discovery over the finish line to improve leprosy control and halt transmission – forever ending the stigma and restoring the lives of those affected to one of dignity and hope.

So began the challenge of finding a way to deliver this information to ALM’s most optimal donors and inspire them to help fund Phase 1 clinical trials over the next 2 years at a cost of $1.3 million.

TLC solution

The main objective was to find a high-impact direct mail technique that would produce a high open rate and high average gift. To achieve this, TLC created the Vaccine Vial Appeal.

Design: The package format was a white box containing a letter, reply form, and return envelope. Most notable, the package contained a medical-grade glass vial; an exact replica of the vial that would contain the true vaccine once the goal was met.

Including the glass vial served two important purposes:

  • The vial created a lot of noise inside the box and made opening the package irresistible. Since the it wasn’t adhered to anything or wrapped in any protective materials, the 1-inch vial freely bounced and rattled around the inside of the 6 x 9 x 2 cardboard box.
  • The vial is a distinct object that immediately conveyed the gravity of the mission – creating a medical cure.

The letter and reply forms featured large images of the vaccine vial overlaid with a chart that measured ALM’s fundraising progress to support the Phase 1 clinical trials. The progress chart indicated that the organization was well over half-way to their goal, which provided an incentive for donors that the target goal was within reach.

Messaging: Messaging was thoughtfully crafted throughout the package, starting with the shipping box. Affixed to the outside of the box was a sticker with a teaser that read: Do Not Discard – Hope Enclosed. The use of the word “Hope” was imperative, as ALM donors are conditioned to respond to this copy and language when referring to their ability to help others through Christ. Overall package messaging used on the letter and reply forms included references to a “Matching Challenge Grant” to inspire a higher average
gift from donors.

Audience: This package was specifically targeted to American Leprosy Missions’ donor house file. Understanding the organization’s revenue target in addition to the high cost of the package, this piece was mailed to 0-24 Month donors who had a highest previous contribution (HPC) of their lifetime on the file of $250 or more. Delving deeper, donors who had given 1 or more gifts to Direct Mail were included in addition to those who had not given previously through the Direct Mail channel (i.e. Digital and Phone Donors).

Direct Mail Package Details

ALM Vaccine Vial Package


The Vaccine Appeal performed beyond all expectations and, most importantly, American Leprosy Missions reached their goal to fund the Phase 1 Clinical Trials. Having grossed $124,684 from a total of 184 donations, the average gift was over $677! With this segment normally averaging a $400 average gift, we can infer that this package reached its objectives through the high impact technique, “Matching Challenge Grant” language, and the opportunity to end leprosy in our lifetime!

Additionally, this package’s success created a prime opportunity to cultivate personal relationships with donors and inspire higher gift giving. In response, TLC developed and produced a high end ‘thank you’ gift for the newly minted Major Donors—a beautiful paperweight featuring the vaccine vial suspended in a clear acrylic mold.

Major Donor "Thank You" Gift