VerticalResponse Helps Afterschool Alliance to Lobby the White House

Background

The Afterschool Alliance is a non-profit organization that was established in 2000 by bodies such as the U.S. Department of Education, and J.C. Penney Company, Inc. This organization works on behalf of all children who need afterschool programs, in particular the 15 million U.S. children who are alone and unsupervised after school.

Today the Afterschool Alliance has more than 25,000 afterschool program partners and its publications reach more than 65,000 people every month. It works with the Administration, the U.S. Congress, governors, mayors and advocates across the country.

Problem

In order to bring in all the funding and support needed to maintain each program, the Afterschool Alliance needs to communicate to its afterschool programs as well as a broader database of key stakeholders and politicians.

Initially, the Afterschool Alliance did this by sending out a package of materials to their stakeholders. As could be expected, this process was clunky and inefficient. "It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t user friendly. Most importantly, we didn’t have any data to report on," said Ursula Helminski, vice president of External Affairs at the Afterschool Alliance.

Discovery

While networking at a fundraising event in San Francisco, an executive director at the Afterschool Alliance met VerticalResponse’s CEO Janine Popick, and they got chatting. During their conversation, Janine let them know she loved what the Afterschool Alliance was doing, and would provide their email marketing for free as part of the VerticalResponse for Non-Profit program.

The Afterschool Alliance had already begun researching several email service providers, as they felt it would be an economical solution. "We looked into several email marketing companies. In the end we felt like VerticalResponse was the best fit for us, as it enabled us to do everything we wanted to do, and they are committed to helping non-profits," said Helminski.

Solution

The VerticalResponse Non-Profit Program was the perfect solution for the Afterschool Alliance; because they are a 501(c)(3) they receive up to 10,000 emails a month from VerticalResponse for free.

The Afterschool Alliance now uses email in a variety of ways, primarily to send their monthly newsletter which includes information about policy changes, letters to the editor of the New York Times, and any information that the community needs to act upon. They also send out email messages whenever important policy information is available. "VerticalResponse is a critical part of our efforts to mobilize concerned citizens, parents, afterschool programs and community leaders to make the case for more afterschool investments," said Helminski.

Results

After adopting email marketing, Afterschool Alliance is able to spread their message quickly and efficiently to their entire database. One of the most powerful demonstrations of the power of email marketing occurred when then-President Bush proposed cutting funding for afterschool programs. The Afterschool Alliance quickly sent 600 free emails through VerticalResponse to key partners and stakeholders—and this act helped generated 40,000 calls and emails to the White House.

Helminski said, "The mobilization of grassroots voices, including VerticalResponse emails, has helped the Afterschool Alliance not only build an engaged network, but help ensure that 8.4 million kids do have a safe place to go when the school bell rings."

Update: Afterschool Alliance Uses VerticalResponse To Coordinate 8,000 Events, 1 Million People

Aim: In October, Afterschool Alliance had their grassroots rally for "Lights On Afterschool." More than 8,000 afterschool programs held events nationwide, attracting media and 1 million Americans.

How Did They Do It? The Afterschool Alliance used VerticalResponse email marketing marketing to communicate weekly with those who had signed up. The emails acted as planning updates for the events, and linked to various resources in the online event planning kit, and organized events at each site. (See more at www.afterschoolalliance.org/loa.cfm)

Results

  • Open rates for the weekly event emails was roughly 25%.
  • With the help of VerticalResponse, Lights on Afterschool had a million people come together on October 22 to rally for the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families.