The Nation­al Park Foun­da­tion: Plan for Parks’ mini-proposal

Exhibited by
Mal Warwick
October 26, 2009
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Individuals, planned gift, regular gift
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

A strikingly competent and evidently effective direct mail upgrade appeal from Mal Warwick Associates. This one is designed to look just like the kind of intriguing and personalised proposal that a major donor might expect. Great stuff.

Creator / originator

Mal Warwick Associates.

Summary / objectives

This mailing is one of Mal Warwick Associates’ signature ‘high-dollar’ appeals, employing strong production values, multiple personalisation, upscale copy, and a major donor ask. The appeal, sent to National Park Foundation donors whose previous giving indicated an ability to give more generously, incorporated a personalised ‘mini-proposal,’ mimicking the sort of materials more frequently presented to prospective major donors following a face-to-face meeting.


The National Park Foundation was created by the United States Congress to support the country’s national park system by mobilising private support for the government agency, the US Park Service, which administers the far-flung system. For many years, the Foundation had been largely ineffective, far overshadowed by a private nonprofit organisation, the National Parks and Conservation Association—overshadowed to the point that many Americans look on the private entity as official. Then a dynamic new leader was appointed to lead the Foundation and dramatically increase private support. New staff and outside consultants came onboard, including Mal Warwick Associates in 2007, charged with overhauling the Foundation’s lacklustre individual donor programme. The mailing illustrated here was one of a large number created by Mal Warwick Associates to reactivate existing donors to the Foundation and to build a larger file through acquisition.

Special characteristics

‘High-dollar’ production values, upscale copy, personalised ‘mini-proposal’ format.

Influence / impact

Together with a number of other appeals targeting different groups of National Park Foundation donors and prospects, this appeal helped dramatically boost year-end fundraising results and lay the foundation for a successful, ongoing programme of individual fundraising in 2008 and beyond.


The ‘high-dollar’ package concept and ‘mini-proposal’ format are elements of an upscale fundraising approach that Mal Warwick Associates conceived in the early 1980s. This approach was deemed revolutionary in direct mail fundraising circles – and, surprisingly, despite its demonstrated and sustained success, remains highly unusual more than a quarter of a century later. Over the years, high-dollar direct mail has raised tens of millions of dollars, largely in the form of gifts of $1,000 or more.