Nature Con­ser­van­cy: launch of their Sci­ence Council

Exhibited by
Mal Warwick
November 02, 2008
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Individuals, major gift
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
August, 1996

SOFII’s view

Another great example of a high value gift request from those masters of the genre, Mal Warwick Associates. Many fundraisers shy away from asking for big gifts particularly through the mail, but experience constantly shows that if it is well done it works. That’s why it pays fundraisers to carefully study packs like this from NCUSA and to note particularly the value of creating a special club or grade for donors who give at this level.

Creator / originator

Mal Warwick.

Name of exhibitor

Mal Warwick.

Summary / objectives

The Nature Conservancy Science Council was conceived as a way to upgrade small donors to the $1,000 level, making them eligible for the sort of increased staff attention that might move them further up the ladder to major gift status ($10,000+). The Nature Conservancy already had a successful $1,000-per-year general giving club (The Rachel Carson Society). The Science Council, with its heavy emphasis on the specialised scientific work sponsored by the Nature Conservancy, was intended to provide a home for donors with a scientific bent.


The Nature Conservancy is by far the largest environmental organisation in the USA, with approximately one million fee-paying members and an annual budget that runs to hundreds of millions of dollars. Because of its non-controversial mission – setting aside wilderness in perpetuity – the organisation receives substantial support from many of the country’s largest corporations, as well as the general public. However, like many nonprofit organisations that operate large-scale direct mail programmes, its donor base consists of a huge number of small donors (gifts of less than $500), a disproportionately high number of major donors (gifts of $10,000 or more) secured by means other than by mail, with a relatively small number of donors whose gifts fall into the middle of the range ($500 to $10,000). Strategically speaking, the Science Council was intended to serve as a route for small donors to move up into that middle range.

Special characteristics

This mailing, the first of many, was characterised by high production values and extensive personalisation.

Influence / impact

The programme was successful; it helped to increase substantially the number of $1,000+ donors to the Nature Conservancy and encouraged the organisation to test an even higher quality package to expand the number of $10,000+ donors.


This package is an exceptionally well-executed high-value appeal of a sort that has enabled Mal Warwick Associates to raise many millions of dollars in $1,000 cheques over the past three decades.

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A busy, professional, good-looking yet hard-working package, with all the sober gravitas one would expect from a serious proposition from the Nature Conservancy.
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The letter that launched the Nature Conservancy’s Science Council.
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And the response form.