Com­mon Cause Citizen’s Com­mit­tee: major donor upgrade

Exhibited by
October 29, 2018
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Individuals, major gift
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
August, 1991

SOFII’s view

The letter and the rather interesting reply form – or ‘special reply memo’ – get to the point right at the beginning, not only are donors asked for money on the letter’s first page, a rather large amount is requested. It then continues as a very compelling call to action. The letter is interesting not just because it is well written and long like most direct mail letters (i.e. runs to four pages), but it is also physically long – i.e. 14 inches (36 cms) in depth. This makes it noticeable and memorable, though also difficult for SOFII to scan. Its length combined with its design give it the look of a legal document, which must have helped.

Craver Mathews Smith & Co.

Name of exhibitor

Jennie Thompson.

Common Cause has fought successfully for major national reforms. Campaign finance reform has traditionally been a hallmark issue for Common Cause, which believes that the undue influence of big money in politics undermines the public’s interest. In the early 1990s finance reform was being obstructed in the US House of Representatives so attention and citizen action were needed to win passage of the legislation. This pack was sent to members to raise money to continue this work.


Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organisation founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

Now with nearly 400,000 members and supporters and 36 state organisations, Common Cause remains committed to honest, open and accountable government, as well as encouraging citizen participation in democracy.

Special characteristics

A lengthy and ‘insider’ report to donors to explain the political situation.

Influence / impact

The average gift amount increased substantially.


It gives a well-argued case for support, as well as giving a thoughtful and thorough explanation of legislation. It does not talk down to the donors and assumes they are interested and politically savvy.

View original image
The Reply Form. Common Cause’s upgrade mailing making a substantial ask, yet it treats donors with respect, as intelligent and well-informed.