The Inspirational Women of CCAH

The first Women’s History Month was established by Congress in March of 1987, and every year since, people have used this month to reflect on the invaluable contributions made by women. At CCAH, we are lucky to work with some incredible women who are leading the way in the direct response industry and helping our clients achieve their goals and make real and lasting impacts.

CCAH is woman-owned, and 66% of our partners and 57% of our employees identify as women. We have women in every department, and women are integral drivers of strategy and our company’s future. For Women’s History Month, we asked CCAHers to nominate the women who inspire them day in and day out to be the best that they can be. 

Kim Cubine, our president, is the fearless leader at CCAH. Before starting here, her work in the political sphere helped shape our country, and at CCAH, that passion has not lessened. With Kim Cubine at the helm, we helped raise more than $166 million for the Biden Harris campaign, more than $50 million dollars to retake the senate, and more than $15.6 million to elect more democrats (especially women and people of color) to the House of Representatives and state offices around the nation. Kim Cubine is a positive force in our office, inspiring everyone day in and out. As she explains, “When I graduated from college, in my state there were specific jobs for women, and politics weren’t one of them. But that’s what I was always really interested in, so I moved to DC to pursue that dream. And here I am today.”

Brenna Holmes, partner and Senior Vice President of Digital Services, is known for her ability to wear many hats at once, and all flawlessly. From managing our social media channels and representing us at conferences and in interviews to heading both digital services on the account side and the digital production side, Brenna is an all-around digital powerhouse! Brenna is always doing what she can to keep CCAH on the cutting edge, and as one employee said, she’s “helping our clients make history by looking to the future, all with a spirit that cannot be denied. With Brenna in your corner, you know you can take on the world and make it a better place.”

Meg Kross Lee

Meg K-L, or MKL to many, is a Vice President and a data crunching genius! Our Fundraising Analytics team is capable of delving into the nuances of even the most difficult to untangle data questions, and Meg is an integral part of their success. Her coworker says “Meg has a difficult to replicate way of thinking through all facets of a problem or question because before she transitioned to our analytics team she worked at nonprofits and on the client services side of things here at CCAH. That diversity of experience makes her such a valuable part of the CCAH team.”

Katie Seger

Katie S is a Vice President of Client Services, and she is able to run incredibly successful direct mail campaigns for her clients while also leading the team in charge of our socials and spirit week events! While she has planned many events, everyone loves her unique spin on trivia—where she finds any random trivia that interests her, and the answers on her paper are the only ones accepted. A coworker says, “Upon meeting her, it was immediately obvious how someone so young has done so well at the company. There is no one more organized, excitable, and down to earth. Every day she manages to bring energy, life, and zest to each meeting. She has the greatest sense of humor and I am consistently impressed at how she manages to add character and fun to our days all while maintaining the utmost professionalism.”

Ana M was CCAH’s first female web developer! Ana joined the firm out of college, honing her skills first as an Account Representative, working alongside the web dev team to create exciting campaigns and innovative user experiences for clients. Her curiosity and eagerness to learn about the code that powers landing pages and emails made her a prime candidate to develop those skills and make a move to work on the production side. While no longer the only woman on this small but mighty team, Ana is known for her great work ethic and speedy turn times. One coworker says “She is intuitive and knows what questions to ask before we even do. She is a problem solver, finding solutions that work best for the production team, account teams, and the clients. She’s brilliant, incredibly talented, and is pretty much a jack of all trades after starting on the account side. Plus, she loves Gritty (the hockey mascot), which brings a lot of fun to calls when you see a photo in the background!”

If you’ve been following our social media channels, you won’t need an introduction to these two inspirational ladies! Jessica W, from our production department, and Mia M, an Account Executive in our Direct Mail department, were two of our first nominated women this month. Their infectious positive energy and team spirit ensures that everyone that comes into contact with them leaves with a smile on their face. Both ladies are incredible artists in their own right—Jessica’s art is in mixed media work, acrylic paints, rubber stamps, and mail art, and Mia is a crafting and party planning extraordinaire! If you missed it, check out @CCAHDirect to see some of their awesome work!

These incredible women only scratch the surface of the amazing women of CCAH. Accomplished women head our Print Production, Digital Advertising, and Fundraising Analytics departments, are Creative Directors, writers, account leads, coordinators, list planners, graphic designers, and so much more! We are so lucky to work with such dedicated people fighting to make the world a better place every day.

February Mini Spotlights

CCAH is full of superstar employees who are going above and beyond to make the world a better place. Whether they’ve worked here for 20 years or just one, every person has the opportunity to make real change. We decided we wanted to show off these go getters with our new mini spotlight series! Each month, we will be highlighting employees on our social media pages who are doing incredible things, both inside and outside the office; however, if you missed any posts, have no fear! Check out a recap of our mini spotlights for February below! In honor of Black History Month, we are excited to celebrate some of the coworkers we are lucky enough to have work with us at CCAH.

Quentin Patrick

To start off our #CCAHSpotlight Black History Month series, we are excited to feature the face of CCAH, Quentin Patrick. Quentin has been the Office Administrator at CCAH for over 20 years! When he is not caring for our staff, he is mentoring inner city youth, biking the national mall, and advocating for civil rights. His favorite memory at CCAH is creating holiday cards for the White House during the Obama Administration. We are beyond proud to work with this independent, reliable and committed coworker who goes above and beyond everyday to make CCAH feel like home.

Alana Ralph

We’re continuing with a creative superstar: Alana Ralph! Alana has been working at CCAH for 5 years as a Production Designer. In our art department, she is a design force. Her art has spanned from assisting with Nasty Woman buttons for Hillary Clinton’s campaign to designing t-shirts for stuffed animals going to pediatric patients. Getting to do work for causes that align with her beliefs isn’t all she does. Outside of the office, she is an incredible mom to her 3 year old daughter and the owner of an Etsy store where she creates invitations and stationary that are works of art. We are incredibly proud to work with such a dedicated, inspirational, creative coworker who brings our clients’ work to life.

Jessica Acheampong

And we’re closing out this mini spotlight series with a Direct Mail rock star: Jessica Acheampong! Jess has been working at CCAH for over a year as an Account Representative. When she is not helping her clients save the world one donor at a time, she loves watching Hamilton on Disney+ (she’s seen it more than 10 times!), celebrating her Ghanaian heritage with family, and spreading cheer wherever she goes—as her supervisor says, “Jess’ positivity and infectious smile can brighten even the dullest of days!” We are beyond proud to work with this exuberant, versatile, and passionate coworker and cannot wait to see what she does next at CCAH!

As the month comes to a close, we want to give a big thank you to these CCAH Superstars and February’s Mini Spotlights!

Thanks(for)giving

You take great pains to add a new donor to your file… And then what? It’s so important to make a donor feel welcomed and thanked! In addition to making them feel like a part of your organization, a thank-you can also serve as their tax receipt. And acknowledgement programs are not just good for donor relations, they can also benefit your organization!

Not only is it a best practice to send a follow-up thanking donors for their contributions, whether online or through the mail (or both!), sending a thank-you note also gives donors another opportunity to give. And it’s not too soon to ask—remember recency is the strongest indicator of likelihood of next action, in this case, to make another gift.

By reducing time to next gift, you’re able to upgrade donors into “multi-giver” status, grooming their giving habits before they become too solidified and tying them more closely to your organization and mission, and making them more likely to become long-term donors.

Acknowledgements also give you a great opportunity to create multichannel donors. Whether you’re including online gifts in your direct mail acknowledgments program (if you don’t already, start doing this!) or sending an email thank you to offline donors (food for thought: how often and quickly do you add emails and sync offline giving into your eCRM?), acknowledgements are an easy way to reach donors across platforms so they have multiple ways to interact with your organization. And, if they reply to an acknowledgment sent in a channel different from the channel in which they made their original gift, they have now raised their hand to receive communication through that medium as well.

It’s no surprise that multichannel donors are some of the best donors an organization can have, so it’s worthwhile to integrate acknowledgments and update your data infrastructure to allow it!

Now for some specifics:

  • To really cement a new donor’s relationship with your organization, try creating a welcome kit to acknowledge first time donors and ask for a second gift. These touchpoints, often direct mail packages, can include lots of information pertinent to new donors—brochures about programs and impact, an explanation of your monthly giving program, information about estate planning for future gifts, and even a member card! Welcome kits are a great way to show new donors that you appreciate their contribution to your organization. Welcome kits can be totally digital too—how are you sending your welcome to new donors over email? Organizations often send  a “kit” spread out over several emails, but you can also create a “supporter hub” landing page where new donors can find all that information in a single location.
  • Once donors are on your file, don’t be afraid to include an ask in your acknowledgments. Keep it soft, and make sure the focus of your copy is on saying thank you, but when given another opportunity—many donors will take you up on it and send an additional contribution!
  • No one has ever said, “stop thanking me so much”, so once you’ve made a basic program turnkey, test expanding your acknowledgments to include other channels like phone (think thank-a-thons, and prerecorded thank you messages from staff or your board) and SMS. Remember: peer-to-peer texting doesn’t require a previous opt-in, so you can text donors a short thank you and then ask them to opt-in for additional updates! (Though if you want to truly grow your SMS program, add an opt-in to your donation forms and reply devices to collect them upfront.)

Investing in an acknowledgement program is a necessity, not only for tax liability purposes and donor transparency, but also to constantly work toward building a better supporter experience and cultivating life-long relationships with your donors. Reach out to CCAH to work with us, and we’ll help you determine the best way to tell your donors Thanks(for)giving!

Brenna Holmes Selected for DMAW Board

We are very proud to announce our partner & SVP Brenna Holmes has been elected to the 2021-2022 DMAW Board of Directors. The Direct Marketing Association of Washington provides education, networking, and professional development programs to help foster a vibrant, growing, supportive, and informed direct response fundraising and marketing community.

At CCAH, Brenna became a partner this year, teaches in our “MBA” continuing education program for our staff members, and regularly speaks at conferences to help share what she’s learned with our larger direct response community.

In her eleven years here, she built our digital program from the ground up, and we know that with a position on the DMAW Board, she will bring the same energy and enthusiasm to helping shape the future of their educational programing.

Brenna is dedicated to bringing more multimedia, data savvy, and technical content to complement the already exceptional marketing and creative-based trainings that DMAW offers to its members. We could not be more proud and excited for Brenna in her newest endeavor in joining the DMAW Board, and we are excited to continue to have her expertise and dedication here at CCAH. Congratulations to Brenna Holmes!

Katie in front of our chalkboard that reads 'welcome to CCAH spirit week'

We’ve Got (Virtual) Spirit!

Each September we have CCAH’s annual spirit week, but this year, spirit week went virtual! This fun-filled employee appreciation week included a lunch hour at the Charlie Hides Funhouse, a team-vs.-team MadLib competition, and our annual award ceremony (this year held over Zoom).

Each day had its own treats and surprises in addition to our weeklong Guess Who game, where employees were challenged to match fun facts with new staff, and the correct answers were revealed at our Thursday happy hour … it was such a fun way to get to know our fellow coworkers!

Monday

CCAH was closed for Labor Day, but we could hardly wait to return to the (home) office to kick off the spirit week festivities.

Katie in front of our chalkboard that reads 'welcome to CCAH spirit week'

Tuesday

It was Mad Lib day! This fun team-vs.-team competition encouraged people to think outside the box as they completed a CCAH-themed MadLib! Teams worked together to come up with the zaniest nouns, adjectives, and verbs they could to impress the judges with their creativity. We also kicked off our New Staff Guess Who game, where everyone worked to match fun facts with the employee who has done it. With facts ranging from a fear of frogs to a world-class ranking on Pokémon Go, to speaking about fundraising on six continents; we’ve certainly hired some pretty interesting people during the pandemic!

Wednesday

For our lunch hour, we brought back Charlie Hides with a brand new gameshow: Charlie’s Funhouse! Staff members went head to head to win fun prizes in a variety of games: the Price is Right (but only with UK food items with interesting names), Name that Tune, and the Masked Celebrity, to name a few. Not everyone was a winner, but we all walked away with a smile after an hour in the funhouse!

Thursday

At happy hour, we kicked off the festivities with a scavenger hunt. Employees rans around their houses and apartments trying to be the first to find a particular item — from something red to something with a face — we had 15 seconds to find our items and run back to the screen before time was up!

From there, employees were recognized — from plaques for those celebrating two years with the company to CCAH monogramed swag gifts for those working here for five, ten, twenty, and twenty-five years.

Quentin Patrick received the Bill Goldstein Legacy Award for his twenty years with the firm. This award recognizes excellence in service and a commitment to outstanding loyalty to CCAH, our clients, and their missions. Twenty years symbolizes a remarkable achievement in one’s career and demonstrates fortitude, grit, and perseverance. Over the years, Bill Goldstein’s work had profound impact on some of the most critical issues facing our country and people around the globe. We are proud to honor his legacy with this award. 

Katie Chambers received the coveted CCAH Spirit Award. This award goes to one individual, voted on by the management committee and partners, who we believe embodies dedication to clients and their fellow colleagues, always lending a helping hand and jumping in if someone doesn’t understand. Katie goes the extra mile for a client with a positive attitude and a smile in every situation.  As one person noted, her “positive attitude is actually infectious for everyone she works with.” Congratulations to Katie Chambers for this distinction!

The Spirit Committee judges also announced the answers to the Guess Who matching game! While only five CCAH employees were able to get a perfect score (congrats to Arwen, Kahla, Srikar, Julia, and me—Becca!), everyone was a winner when we got to learn more about our coworkers.

Friday

Spirit week was finally coming to a close, but not without one final announcement: we changed our name! Jenny Allen officially became a name partner, making our company now Chapman Cubine Allen + Hussey — you can read all about it here if you missed the announcement blog. With this exciting news top of everyone’s mind, it was easy to forget about the MadLib competition (even though that was also a very exciting moment in CCAH history). Team Mia took home the win, and all of the bragging rights that came with it. 

As a final surprise, everyone was excited to find goody bags at their door the week after spirit week. MJ, Katie, and Quentin had worked tirelessly to ensure a sweet snack for all of our employees even though we were far apart.

With that, we closed another wonderful week at CCAH. Now we are back to work, refreshed and ready to take on Q4 and another full year of doing great work for all our amazing clients! 

Pivot Quick in Snail Mail

Right now, the world is changing at a rapid rate. With pandemics, changing work environments, and civil unrest amplifying systemic issues to catalyze important change, it can be difficult to figure out how tried-and-true direct mail best practices and anchor campaigns fit into this new reality. What do you do in the face of the unknown? What tools, tips, and techniques should you use when world events mean your program needs to pivot—and pivot fast—when you work in direct mail (DM)?

Step one: Talk to your digital counterparts

Discuss options to go live with the new messaging on your homepage, over email and social, and SMS and phone. These channels have an unmatched ability to get your message out quickly, as well as giving your organization the option to test language and more fully develop your plan of action for your donors as new details on the topic reveal themselves.

However, if most of your donors are direct mail responsive, aren’t mobile opted in, or if there isn’t much overlap between your email and DM programs, these channels alone won’t get your message to everyone that needs to hear it. If you do not have key techniques ready to implement so you can quickly and efficiently reach your direct mail donors, you will be missing out on a key group of supporters. It’s incredibly important that these people, too, know your organizational response to a changing environment.

Direct mail is not a beauty contest

So a simple and straightforward urgent message received in a timely manner is often more important than providing donors with a highly-produced, design-heavy package. If your mail schedule and cadence allow you to print new material, you can create a simple package to get your message to your audience. Many times, you can use an “urgent-gram,” which is pre-printed material that allows you to simply add your organizational messaging.

Rework what you’ve already done

Recoding data from a recent appeal or renewal can also shorten the time frame from creative development to your drop date. If you are able to truncate your art approval timelines, recoding data (which can mean faster turn times than starting from scratch) can allow you to get your message in the mail quickly.

Look at some production-focused strategies

These can include digital printing, duplex lasering, and multiple-window no-print envelopes, and all of these strategies can shorten timelines. In digital printing, you can print and laser your material all at once, bypassing the proof, or blueline, step of the process. Duplex lasering allows an organization to print material without finalizing their messaging before printing. This gives another week or two to allow a situation to develop, thereby giving you the most information at your disposal before finalizing your stance. By mailing in simple formats with stock that is readily available, you will improve your chances of getting in the mail as quickly as possible.

Have the option to change your signer

Often overlooked, but a useful way to cut timelines for some organizations: if a finance officer, director of marketing, or membership chair can sign instead of going all the way to a president or CEO for approval, you can shorten the timeline you need to vet a package but still ensure your organization’s unique brand and voice are maintained. If a package was planned with the use of a celebrity signer in mind, consider moving that tactic to later in your calendar and swapping in a mailing that needs fewer approvals so that you can move quickly.

But what if you’ve already printed, the signer is final, and your cadence won’t allow you to miss a mailing?

A buckslip can be a quick and easy way to add information to an existing mailing before it goes in the mail. While this does not allow you to tailor your entire message/approach to a mailing, in a pinch, it allows you to connect with these donors without missing a mailing or having to trash your printed material. For programs like acquisition where list clearances only last for so long, a buckslip can ensure your organization isn’t ignoring the current state of the world, but also isn’t missing out on needed funds to further their mission.

Direct mail means planning and working far in advance, but when your plans get turned on their head, it doesn’t mean you have no options. It’s important to make sure your donors know where your organization stands and to reinforce that you are being good stewards of your donors’ gifts—especially in unknown times.

Being able to act quickly gives you the best chance of reaching your donors, and having the ability to be the first in inboxes and mailboxes can make a substantial difference in your capacity to raise funds around a specific issue and keep donors informed. Allow yourself to pivot quickly, or at least, as quickly as we can in snail mail!

Want to join the conversation? Work with us!