The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
The Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the country’s most visited national parks, meanders for 469 breathtaking miles through the Appalachian Highlands of Virginia and North Carolina. Access to the park is free, and federal funding only goes so far in helping to keep it in good condition. As the park’s primary nonprofit partner, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has a mission to help bridge that funding gap and support vital park initiatives—from historic preservation and environmental protection to educational outreach and maintenance of visitor amenities.
The 15 million people who visit the Blue Ridge Parkway annually are a major source for potential donations. But how can you motivate more of them to give?
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has donor recognition boards located at various project areas around the park. For several years, the Foundation had been placing donation appeals at these boards in the form of two-sided rack cards.
But according to Rita Larkin, the Foundation’s communications director, that format limited what they could convey and, perhaps more importantly, it didn’t provide an easy way to send in a donation.
“We decided we wanted a less passive piece, one that was not only more visually appealing but also included an attached envelope to make it easier to donate.”
The Foundation began researching printers who provided this type of product—often called a self-mailer brochure.
But that was more challenging than they had anticipated. “First, we realized that not a lot of printers offer this kind of capability. And those that did were just way too expensive. But then we discovered POV Solution.”
The Foundation reached out to POV Solution for support in producing self-mailer brochures.
“From the get-go, POV Solution was cheerful and easy to work with. But more than that, they’re really interested in what we’re trying to accomplish and have been very helpful in making this a smooth and successful process.”
So far, that process has involved producing two styles of five-panel self-mailer brochures, one for the Foundation’s overall mission and one for a specific historic restoration project.
More specifically, these foldable self-mailer brochures provide:
“The fold-out option gives us a big spread to represent the park’s beauty in the photography. But then we can also get down to the nitty-gritty of taking a step toward supporting a national park.”
The design phase, especially for a product like this, can come with challenges. “We were designing the self-mailers in-house, which wasn’t easy because of the complexity of the folds, among other things,” says Rita. “But that ultimately wasn’t a problem because of POV’s support.”
“They were super-helpful in assisting us with the design.”
The Foundation has been using these self-mailers for three years and doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.
“People are picking these up like crazy, and the benefits are far-reaching.”
By working with POV Solution for their self-mailer brochures, the Blue Ridge Park Foundation has been able to:
1. Distribute 10,000 self-mailer brochures a year without breaking the bank. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation can afford these more complicated print pieces thanks to POV Solution’s investments in print technology that makes them easier to produce.
2. Provide a more compelling—and effective—takeaway piece to park visitors. “Every time a visitor takes one of these eye-catching self-mailers with them, we’re planting a seed about who we are. Plus, we’re presenting several ways to give conveniently,” says Rita.
3. Increase first-time donors. These mailers have helped increase a specific type of donor. Rita explains that people who send in donations with the self-enclosed envelope or text a donation via the self-mailer directions are typically first-time donors. “That’s really important because it’s the first step to them becoming what we call long-term stewards of the park.”
4. Rely on having high-quality collateral for a critical communications piece. “Every single time we’ve had a file issue, POV has caught it,” says Rita. “And we’ve also been extremely impressed with the quality of how these self-mailers have turned out.”
Visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway often want to take information with them about the park. POV Solution looks forward to helping the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation continue to deliver a powerful takeaway message—and generate more donors—with these affordable self-mailer brochures.