CARE USA: donor acqui­si­tion chap­er­oned emails

Exhibited by
Emily Campbell, Donordigital.
June 20, 2012
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family, public / society benefit
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
January, 2009

SOFII’s view

CARE USA responded to the violence in Gaza with remarkable humanitarian aid and a strong call to action for new donors. Being ready to appeal for new supporters during emergencies, or at times when your issue is in the public eye can help you to acquire more donors for your cause. This online approach has the benefit of speedy implementation in a crisis and can immediately return hundreds of new donors, as it recently did for CARE. For organisations that have only a small number of supporters, sending 'chaperoned emails' could be a great help to acquire more.

Creator / originator

A combined effort of several staff members at CARE USA and Donordigital.

Summary / objectives

To acquire new online donors at a low cost by sending chaperoned emails through online publishers.

A chaperoned email is an email that a publisher sends to its own online magazine subscribers, on behalf of a nonprofit. The email may ask for a donation, or ask for another action, such as writing a letter to a politician, or completing a survey. The email itself is usually branded with the nonprofit's own email design, including logo and photos. This is often accompanied by an endorsement from the editor of the publication at the top.


When the violence in Gaza erupted in late December 2008, CARE responded within hours, providing critical aid to those in need.

They then sent an email appeal to their current supporter list and decided to try sending chaperoned emails to a list of online subscribers to two well-known US publications, The Nation and Alternet. In the past, CARE had used publishers like these to build their email list through advocacy actions, but not by asking for a donation.

Special characteristics

The chaperoned emails were very similar to those that CARE sends to their own list on a regular basis. The email contained a designed masthead at the top, including the CARE logo and a photo of the Gaza crisis, with a headline over the copy. The message also contained a callout box within the body of the message with the call to donate. All images and graphics were linked to the donation page along with several links throughout the body of the email.

Influence / impact

The acquisition campaign was a success and had a positive ROI – netting more than $23 per new donor. The money raised supported CARE's work throughout the world to reduce poverty.


The cost of the campaign was $14,385, which included all email and donation page copywriting, design and setup, and the sending of the chaperoned emails by the vendors.


Not only did the chaperoned emails raise $23,206 in unrestricted funds for CARE, they also added 376 new donors at an average donation of $62, with a net profit per donor after expenses of $23.


It's hard to acquire new donors, especially in today's economy. CARE regularly sends chaperoned emails through publications such as The Nation and Alternet in order to acquire new donors from amongst the publishers' email subscribers. However, we felt that by responding to the crisis in Gaza in a timely manner with a direct appeal for donations, we would be able to acquire new donors at a low cost. Our hope was to keep the cost per donor under $30. We not only kept the cost under that amount, but were able to make a net profit on the campaign. Furthermore, as CARE's newest supporters, they have the potential to become long-term supporters, which is something we're always working on.

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Chaperoned emails cost the host publisher nothing and may even enhance their image and reputation with subscribers and advertisers. This strikes us as a great idea that almost any organisation could use and adapt.