Request for Proposals

Request for Proposals: Direct Mail Consultant

CONTACT: Jessica Arnold
Chief Development Officer
Humane Society of Missouri
1201 Macklind Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110

ISSUE DATE: February 9, 2018

To identify innovative and creative print marketing and fundraising providers able to grow the direct mail donor base of the Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO). Growing the direct mail file and stewarding donors in the transition from print to online donations is critical, as is forward thinking and strategic planning around this segment of HSMO’s donor base.

HSMO is one of the oldest and largest animal welfare agencies in the United States. Founded in 1870, HSMO provides second chances to animals in need through adoptions, education, veterinary medicine, animal cruelty task force and shelter behavior programs that reach more than 75,000 animals and 200,000 people every year.

HSMO’s Direct Mail program is an integral part of the organization’s development operations and fundraising initiatives. Annually, development department staff process more than 29,000 gifts arriving as a result of direct mail communications.

In an increasingly competitive non-profit environment, HSMO seeks a direct mail consultant to direct the organization in implementation of best practices to retain existing donors and grow donor acquisition through print and electronic media.

The HSMO intends to award to the most qualified vendor a one-year contract, renewable annually based on results.

Conceive, create and execute print and online solicitation and cultivation pieces that engage and inspire current, lapsed and prospective donors to support the mission of HSMO through online or mailed gifts. HSMO serves and solicits direct mail support from the entire State of Missouri and is a registered fundraiser in all 50 states.

HSMO uses its own success stories and photos for direct mail and online fundraising. The selected direct mail consultant is required to incorporate HSMO customization into all fundraising and cultivation pieces in print and online.

  1. Acquisitions: The New Donor Acquisition program is a main channel that drives new
    donors to HSMO. The target audience is acquired through list rentals or exchanges.

    1. There are currently four (4) acquisition mailings per year equaling approximately 350,000 pieces. 25,000 of these pieces are QZIP mailings; the remainder are built from rental lists and models
    2. Tasks include:
      • Manage creative design, printing and production
      • Manage mail shop vendor
  2. Solicitation Appeals: The Appeals program is designed to continue member loyalty.
    1. There are currently 8-10 appeal mailings per year equaling approximately 25,000 per drop. These include but are not limited to: membership appeals, lapsed donor packages, match opportunities, quick convert
    2. Tasks include:
      » Determine annual calendar.
      » Create and print all components
      » Determine and create complementary online components including but not limited to light boxes, emails, banner ads, social media ads, etc., intended to drive response via HSMO’s website or donation pages
      » Manage mail shop vendor.
    3. In addition to the budgeted mailings, there are occasional emergency or additional mailings that arise due to current events or unique fundraising opportunities.
    4. In addition to the projects detailed above, there may be other ad hoc projects throughout the contract period that HSMO may or may not use
  3. Cultivation Appeals: These pieces engage donors by sharing relevant information and include 2-3 pieces per year, such as:
    1. Print newsletter: 4-8 page; 25,000 pieces
    2. Donor survey: two-page; 20,000 pieces

Strategic Planning – Work with HSMO on the strategic and budgetary planning for print and online campaigns. Provide an overall estimated cost per campaign to ensure that HSMO stays within budget constraints.

Project Coordination with Client – Work with the HSMO Assistant Director of Development – Data Management and Membership, the Chief Development Officer, and other HSMO staff as required.

Research Activity – Stay abreast of industry trends to be sure HSMO is aware of any new packaging and/or mailing techniques related to the direct response fundraising program. Researching and provide cost-saving alternatives to maintain HSMO’s fundraising budget.

Online Presence and Activity – Extensive knowledge and understanding of online fundraising and online donation best practices. Use online platforms to improve overall fundraising performance.

Data Analysis and Strategies – Extensive knowledge of data analysis and become familiar with HSMO data processing and nomenclature. Report on the overall performance, costs and implications of the direct mail pieces individually and as a whole

Postage Regulations – Be current with all postal regulations and inform HSMO of any changes that will impact the direct response program

Donor privacy and confidentiality – Maintain appropriate security measures to protect, safeguard and keep confidential information regarding HSMO’s existing or prospective members/donors, and its name, logo and other proprietary symbols.


  1. Monthly postage requests
    • Requests should be line itemed by individual project and specify
    mailing class, cost per piece and total cost by mailing
    • Opening and maintaining an escrow account for postage funds
    • Monthly postage account statements
  2. The following accountings of each program effort:
    • Invoice for each program effort.
    • Detailed package costs for each program.
    • Complete itemizations of printing, postage, and administrative costs.
    • Budgets: Contractor shall provide project budgets inclusive of roll-out pricing on test packages
  3. Project Services and Deliverables:
    • Consolidate and send HSMO individually labeled package samples for each panel of each mailing/project
    • Provide HSMO print, data, personalization, and production approvals for each component and package mailed. HSMO prefers a three (3) round edit process

Vendors will be evaluated on the basis of the written proposals and in person presentations. Vendor’s selections will be based on the following criteria:
• Quality and completeness of submitted proposal and presentation.
• Overall direct mail and online capabilities to meet HSMO’s business needs.
• Superior customer service and account management.
• Experience and qualifications of the company.
• Competitive pricing.
• References and relevant project history.

If your company intends to respond to the RFP, please email an indication of participation by February 15, 2018 to to receive the Proposal Form

For Submission (no later March 1, 2018):

Deliver one hard copy of a full proposal signed by authorized representative and addressed to:
Humane Society of Missouri
Attention: Jessica Arnold, Chief Development Officer
1201 Macklind Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110

And one electronic copy to:

RFP Schedule Due Date – Vendor Written/Email Proposals Due March 1, 2018

Proposal Review/Vendor Interviews – March 2 – April 30, 2018

Select Firm
– No later than April 30, 2018

  1. It is the intent of HSMO to make a selection no later than April 30, 2018. All agencies will be notified by email once a decision has been made.
  2. The schedule requires that the selected entity provide services for the HSMO Fiscal Year: November 1, 2018 through October 31, 2019.
  3. RFP Cancellation. HSMO reserves the unconditional right to cancel this RFP or to terminate negotiations at any time without cost or liability to HSMO. Participation in this RFP or any resulting Agreement constitutes an affirmative waiver by participants of any claim to bid or proposal preparation costs.
  4. Please submit only one (1) original hard copy of full proposal in with one (1) electronic copy of full proposal in a format that is legible to HSMO, does not exceed 5 MBs, and can be easily electronically distributed to members of the evaluation team and/or printed and recorded as hard copy.

At a minimum, you must be able to provide the following:

  1. Completed proposal form – PROVIDED BY REQUEST WHEN NOTIFICATION OF INTENT TO APPLY IS RECEIVED (see page 4, Process Schedule)
  2. Compliance with federal, state or local charitable solicitation laws and regulations applicable to persons engaged in professional fundraising.
  3. Five or more years of experience managing direct mail production, to include animal welfare related organizations
  4. Proof of or Certificate of Insurance for:
    • General Liability
    • Errors of Omission
    • Workers Comp

Inquiries, questions, and all correspondence concerning this solicitation document should be submitted via e-mail to HSMO shall e-mail responses to all vendors on a rolling basis at its discretion.

Interviews will be scheduled after review of all proposals

Jessica Arnold
Chief Development Officer
Humane Society of Missouri
1201 Macklind Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110