Feeding America Case Study

How Feeding America (Re)Built Its Planned Giving Program

Zach Christensen

Today we welcome back a special guest: Stelter’s Creative Director, Zach Christensen. In his role, Zach oversees key strategic campaigns for a wide variety of Stelter clients, from ideation to collaboration to execution and, ultimately, response.

Feeding America and the Pandemic

Over the past 5 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working personally with Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. They have a bold goal: End hunger in the United States. Thanks to their strong network of food banks, volunteers and donors, they have been very successful in helping people in need get nourishing food.

But no year has been like the last one.

Feeding America estimates that 45 million people (1 in 7) may have experienced food insecurity in 2020. As an organization, they were faced with a tricky question: How do we continue to grow a planned giving program amid a pandemic, when the focus is (necessarily) on the here and now?

At one point in the spring of 2020, we had to think deeply about sending a planned giving postcard and how it would be received. Luckily, Director of Development Stacey O’Malley (who’ll you meet in our story, below), committed to continuing her marketing to ensure that Feeding America’s ability to serve local communities was safe well into the future.

The result? A record-setting year for Stacey and her team.

How We Got Here, Together

I share Feeding America’s pandemic response to illustrate what a strong commitment to planned giving can do. Today I want to highlight the overall success of Feeding America as part of our series, “Why I Partner with Stelter.”  

You’ll find out how they took a once largely dormant planned giving program and raised more than $10 million while working with Stelter. Want all the details? Download the full case study.

The Starting Point

When Stacey O’Malley became Director of Development for Feeding America, she was tasked with managing major gifts and leading the nonprofit’s planned giving program. She found herself in need of a right-hand resource.

“We needed someone who was an expert,” Stacey says about seeking a planned giving marketing partner. “Someone I could trust to get information out in a timely manner and in ways that our donors could understand,” she says.

Enter Stelter.

“They really get our brand, how we communicate about the work we do.”

—Stacey O’Malley, Feeding America’s director of development, about Stelter

Calling Stelter’s proposed approach “Planned Giving Lite,” Stacey and her Stelter partners built the program at a pace that a short-staffed Feeding America team could manage.

Year one included building a digital presence with new planned giving web pages. Since then, tactics have grown to include collateral, educational emails, direct mail newsletters, targeted mailers and Facebook campaigns.

The Stelter team also provided tools to improve the list. The PG Finder analytics program found top prospects while surveys identified new leads.

Looking Ahead

“Our partnership has continued to evolve,” Stacey says. “We constantly talk about the budget and how we can most creatively use those funds.”

“They really get us. It’s like having an extension. Not them, not us—we’re a team.”

—Stacey O’Malley

All the Details

Read more about Feeding America’s planned giving wins, including the growth of their van Hengel Society, in our case study.

Leave a Reply