Case Study: Fulfillment Services
How The Aldo Leopold Foundation increased calendar sales by 6x with help from Thysse’s fulfillment services
The Client: The Aldo Leopold Foundation
One of the most influential conservationists of the 20th century, Aldo Leopold is considered a founding father of modern wildlife ecology. Leopold is best known for his most renowned work, A Sand County Almanac, a book detailing his observations while restoring a plot of worn-out farmland along the Wisconsin River.
Leopold’s eloquent documentation of his restoration would lay the foundation for key land ethics and stewardship practices still widely referenced today. Founded in 1982 by his wife and children, The Aldo Leopold Foundation (ALF) is a nonprofit that works to “inspire an ethical relationship between people and nature through Leopold’s legacy”.
The Project: The Annual Phenology Calendar Fundraiser
Every fall, the nonprofit releases a unique fundraising calendar to build support and awareness for its mission. The calendar features local wildlife photography, and details notable seasonal changes in the ecosystem as they occur throughout the year – a branch of study called phenology. The calendar is also packaged with a custom envelope and a one-page glossy insert introducing the calendar and outlining the foundation’s mission.
The phenology calendar encourages the public to get outdoors and promotes the observation of the intricacies of the natural environment around them. It’s a significant source of income for the foundation and a consistent top seller in the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center’s bookstore. The calendar also serves as an extra touchpoint around the holidays to show appreciation for the foundation’s top donors.
Why Thysse? Customer service and quality
Though the calendars had been part of the foundation’s fundraising efforts since 2005, it wasn’t until 2017 that ALF began handling all aspects of the calendar’s design and content curation in-house. The shift led the company to seek out a new partner to manage the printing of their calendars.
As an environmentally-conscious nonprofit, ALF needed a local printer sensitive to their desired quality and budget. They also required timely, detail-oriented customer service to ensure reliable turnaround and quality control that could guarantee a professional final product every time. Luckily, Thysse was the perfect match on all accounts.
The Challenge: Efficiently produce, store, package, and mail calendars to thousands nationwide with limited staff
Prior to 2020, the packaging and mailing of calendar orders were handled in-house by a limited-term employee. However, the arrival of the pandemic introduced three significant changes:
1. 2020 was the first year ALF tested out a pre-sale campaign for its calendars. It turned out to be a raging success, but more on that in a moment.
2. People were going outside in droves, buying up all available stock of outdoor gear and finding renewed interest in ALF programs.
3. Smaller staff, larger distribution. There were few employees on-site, but more orders to manage than ever.
With no one in the office to handle the packaging and shipment of the calendars, how would ALF get the calendars to those who purchased them?
The Solution: Thysse’s fulfillment services
Starting in October of 2020, the Foundation began incorporating a month of pre-sales campaigning into its marketing strategy. This would provide a more accurate count of calendars to have produced upfront, and allow ALF to submit larger orders to Thysse to help reduce overall production cost.
In addition to printing ALF’s bulk orders, Thysse also began managing the storage and fulfillment of calendar orders in our 8,750-square-foot fulfillment and pick-and-pack assembly area. This included:
1. Production: Every calendar, insert, and envelope was made right here at our facility.
2. Assembly: We sorted and stuffed the components in their envelopes.
3. Distribution: Thysse mailed to ALF’s list of pre-order recipients.
Previous campaign performance informed storage needs; Thysse was there to offer warehousing as well. These stored quantities would be used to fulfill weekly calendar orders placed after the presale period. Thysse also used Informed Delivery® with the mailings to generate added excitement for subscribers to anticipate when the new calendars were arriving in the mail.
The Outcome: Decreased cost and increased efficiency
Knowing the presale quantity and repeat customers, ALF was able to produce at a higher initial volume, reducing their calendar production cost, while improving their overall margin. The calendars were mailed in bulk, which allowed Thysse to optimize the mailings for USPS automation requirements – a process that allows the post office to process mailings more efficiently, resulting in significant postage discounts.
By partnering with Thysse to manage all storage, fulfillment, and mailing aspects of the project, the amount of time ALF staff spent juggling order fulfillment logistics and communicating with vendors was greatly reduced. This allowed staff to maintain their focus on more essential job duties – like raising awareness of ALF’s mission, fostering community engagement, and expanding public education efforts.
Thysse managed all production and order fulfillment processes so efficiently that the Foundation continued to utilize Thysse’s full grouping of services long after onsite staffing returned to normal. From year one of Thysse’s involvement to 2022, ALF’s total annual calendar sales increased by about six times!
Thysse is proud to play a role in helping nonprofits like The Aldo Leopold Foundation succeed.
Landowner Education and Services Associate, Emily Oyos, says, “The calendars are a great way for us to continue Leopold’s legacy of phenology record keeping. It encourages people to get out in nature, noticing and growing an appreciation for the little things happening around them.”
When ALF’s annual calendar sales are successful, it does more than just raise important funds for the foundation. It helps foster a sense of moral responsibility to the community, the land, and strengthens the important relationship between them.
For more information about The Aldo Leopold Foundation, read more about their mission here. For more on fulfillment services, drop us a line, or head to our fulfillment services page to explore more on your own.