case studies

Not-for-Profit Case Study: Canadian Wildlife Federation


Since its inception in 1962, the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) has become a leader in conservation education, awareness and outreach. Its 300,000 members and supporters are dedicated to preserving Canada’s wildlife through advocacy publications, award-winning educational programs and a balanced approach to wildlife issues.


To acquire new donors and subscribers, CWF typically rented selective magazines’ lists and mailed fundraising appeals to their subscribers. But the group worried that it was wasting money sending solicitations to people who had no interest in CWF’s goals. Its fundraisers wanted to develop a more cost-effective direct mail strategy. 


CWF’s solution began with classifying the group’s database of current members according to PRIZMC2, the segmentation system from Environics Analytics (EA) that sorts Canadians into 66 distinct lifestyle types. After identifying the best-performing segments, CWF analysts designed a campaign to determine the best direct mail approach for reaching receptive prospects. For the test, fundraisers purchased three lists of 20,000 names from Cornerstone’s Universe Canada. The first group, called “Random,” consisted of postal codes from CWF’s member database and other postal codes identified by the top-ten producing PRIZM clusters—clusters like Cosmopolitan Elite, Young Digerati and Suburban Gentry. The second group, “Different From List,” featured postal codes that included only the top-performing clusters. The third group, “Same As List,” consisted of neighbourhoods that included both the top-performing clusters and at least one previous donor—an indicator of neighbourhood affinity for CWF. 


The test mailings showed that lifestyle plus behaviour is more powerful than lifestyle alone for reaching likely prospects. The “Same As List” group performed 20 percent better than the “Random” group and 12 percent better than the “Different From List” group. Based on these results, CWF was able to reduce the cost of mailing by about 7 percent by renting a basic telco list for $80 and scoring it with its best segmentation-and-behaviour postal codes, rather than using subscriber lists from magazines. In addition, CWF used another PRIZMC2-based model to score existing donors with WealthScapes and other data a planned giving campaign to encourage members to support CWF in their will. The group mailed 10,000 names and received responses from 300 people—an impressive 3 percent return. Over a ten-year period, that response’s projected value is $9 million. 

But perhaps more important is the ripple effect that the segmentation-and-behaviour approach can have on other not-for-profits. Because charities typically trade their house lists with each other, the groups are constantly recycling the same names. But CWF’s innovative approach brings new blood into the donor pool through rental lists, and there’s no limit on the number of new names that can be acquired. “You’re tapping into an open-ended pool rather than a closed-end pool,” says John Heckbert, fundraising manager for direct mail at CWF. “The names are going into the entire Canadian not-for-profit market. This approach helps all of us.”