Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is a nationally and internationally recognized leader dedicated to improving pediatric healthcare. This year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Cincinnati Children’s as number one in the nation in its list of best children’s hospitals. S&W Direct began working with Cincinnati Children’s in 2012 to provide strategic, analytical and implementation services for its annual giving program.

The Challenge

After discussions with our client and a thorough review of the information and data they provided, we identified two key areas in Cincinnati Children’s existing annual giving program where we knew we could offer immediate help. We focused on the following challenges:

  • Improve Response Rates. We believed that a lack of package innovation and a weak ask for support was hampering response from current donors and prospects.
  • Build the Donor Base. Cincinnati Children’s was under-mailing, both for market size and reputation. Real annual giving growth would come from an aggressive acquisition program.

The Solution

We knew, based on our experience with other children’s hospitals, that improved strategy and creative could have an immediate, dramatic and positive impact on results. We also knew of the enormous potential for significant growth in Cincinnati and the surrounding area. We were able to achieve meaningful results using:

  • Emotional copy drawn from patient stories and involvement devices that engaged donors beyond their monetary gifts;
  • A more targeted and expanded list selection through participation in the S&W Children’s Hospital List Consortium, which allowed the use of smaller, niche lists that might otherwise be too costly for regional mailers; and
  • Expert analysis to refine mailing strategy and implement adjustments to the program.


In our first year working together, Cincinnati Children’s increased gross income among existing donors by 89%, acquisition response improved by 227% over the previous fiscal year’s program and the program realized an overall 20% increase in the number of donors.

S&W continues to work with Cincinnati Children’s, using what we have learned over the past several years to further expand and maximize revenue from the donor base.

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