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Our 2018 MAXI Awards Report: An Evening Celebrating Achievement in Direct Response

Every year, we look forward to the MAXI awards—and not just because we hope to be recognized among our peers with a Bronze, Silver or Gold award, but because the evening is a great opportunity to see what techniques are working across the nonprofit space. While we regularly track what various nonprofits are doing in regard to mail, email, and advertising, seeing standout campaigns from nonprofits large and small in one setting allows us to get a big picture of what is working across different channels. This year, we saw five approaches across organizations that made for standout campaigns. 

  • Unique Campaigns
    • With the exception of the “Workhorse” category, this was the year of new concepts and unique approaches to delivering an ask. What this means is that is it time to TEST. Are your labels, calendars, and statement package results waning? Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Think about the mission and brainstorm ideas on what would make sense and stand out in the white noise of widely used packages. “Tweak testing” won’t move the needle like a whole new package could.
  • Demonstrating the Need
    • Packages that clearly demonstrated the need for mission support had notable results. This has been a longstanding best practice in copy and package design for years, but few organizations built entire packages around showing the impact of a donor’s support. New takes on voucher packages and mission-driven, front-end premiums help tangibly show donors how their support will help make a difference. 
  • Standing Out in the Mailbox
    • From parcels to high-priority grams to brown craft, carriers did some showing off this year. A strong carrier design focused on getting the piece opened is the most important part of a package. Search for ways to stand out in the mailbox by testing new sizes, colors, or textures. Make something look either as personal or as official as possible. This could provide a further lift to response rate in a tried-and-true control. 
  • Social Fundraising
    • In the digital and multichannel award categories, campaigns that featured social fundraising techniques were the stars. Facebook and other social channels have officially arrived as transactional channels worth acquisition investment. Meet your donors where they are, or you might lose donors to other organizations already in this space. 
  • Integration: Everyone Is Doing It
    • Even in single-channel categories, the strategy of campaigns across the board included a multichannel approach. From telemarketing, to email, to advertising, organizations are leveraging integration to lower giving thresholds with strong success. If you aren’t using multiple channels in your campaigns, start now. Even small additions like a follow-up email or targeted Facebook post can result in small increases in response rate. 

CDR and our clients have seen strong success through leveraging the campaign techniques above and are glad to see them permeate across the industry. More so, we are honored that our work with clients was recognized with five MAXI awards. 

GOLD AWARD for Acquisition: Toys for Tots Direct Mail Packages Circulated via Alternative Media
SILVER AWARD for Renewal/Special Appeal: Toys for Tots Hurricane Special Appeal
SILVER AWARD for Reinstatement/Lapsed: Wounded Warrior Project Pre-Lapsing Donor Services Memo
BRONZE AWARD for Acquisition: National Humane Education Society Animal Abuse Registry
BRONZE AWARD for Major Donor: Central Park Conservancy Mini Impact Report With Year-End Matching Gift

For new ideas to boost your campaign results reach out to 




DeDi Oxenberg

Vice President, Client Services