The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation recaptures target audience with high-quality data

Case study highlights


within a week


emails verified

24 hr



The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF) is a privately funded, nonprofit organization that provides academic scholarships to children of United States Marines and Navy Corpsmen. Founded in 1962, the Scholarship Foundation is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of need-based scholarships to military children.

The Challenge

Deliverability is the likelihood of a marketing email reaching the intended recipient’s inbox, not their spam folder. Deliverability is a huge challenge; nonprofits rely on their emails hitting inboxes for donors to read, engage, and act. A Data Axle study shows that the nonprofit sector is estimated to lose almost $100 million in donations each year because of bad data and low deliverability.

To combat this kind of loss, MCSF decided to proactively tackle email deliverability issues by ensuring their data was clean, starting with their email-able house file. Their concerns started when they tracked their open rates and realized they were below where they wanted them to be. Even when MCSF was only targeting their most engaged audiences, open rates were barely reaching 20%.

With two key donation days looming, Veterans Day and the United States Marine Corps birthday, MCSF needed to deploy a quick digital hygiene solution that was scalable and repeatable to support their long-term strategic omnichannel approach. Their goals included:

  • Increase digital engagement
  • Improve MCSF sender reputation
  • Reduce unsubscribes
  • Achieve a better deliverability score

The Solution

After assessing MCSF’s goals, Data Axle stepped in with advanced email hygiene services. Data hygiene is a crucial component of an effective marketing strategy, and a small investment can make a huge impact.

After receiving their sender scores, Data Axle learned that MCSF had a low-ranking sender grade of email IP addresses and had multiple spam traps on file. Data Axle implemented a customized automated process to ensure that MCSF’s house file was regularly cleaned and appended. Not only does that automation cut down on the time MCSF invests in scrubbing email lists, but it ensures they are less likely to get flagged as spam. Getting flagged as spam can have dire consequences for an email campaign. If a campaign sends to too many invalid email addresses, the ISP will be marked as spam and your nonprofit can end up blacklisted. Having a clean email list is the foundation of a strong email fundraising campaign and sets the stage for any future omnichannel campaign deployment.

With Veterans Day and USMC’s Birthday rapidly approaching, Data Axle completed the initial cleaning and appending of MCSF’s house file, processing 200,000+ emails and categorizing them based on 11 different validity flags in just 24 hours. Working with Data Axle, MCSF was able to take action (i.e.: additional segmentation, channel choices, new email append, etc.) to maximize the chance that the email would connect with their donors. Data Axle also recommended deliverability monitoring to keep MCSF’s email program, and any email program, thriving. Active deliverability monitoring includes seedlist inboxing, spam trap monitoring, blocklists and ISP reputation data. These strategies will result in increased email program ROI by helping marketers consistently reach each person in their audience.


Thanks to the fast turnaround by Data Axle Nonprofit’s email hygiene team, MCSF was able to leverage their email list to reach out directly to donors in time for their crucial fundraising dates. By having a more accurate email database, along with the confidence of hitting inboxes and increasing open rates, MCSF was able to exceed their fundraising goals.

Some of the immediate results from the append were:

  • Open rate percentages for the most engaged audiences rose from around 20% to the high-40s to low-50s
  • A 500% increase in ROI within the first week
  • Over 180,000 verified email addresses
  • A 24-hour turnaround, which allowed MCSF to hit their goals for their largest digital donation campaign days of the year

The results made it clear that Data Axle continues to work as an extension of the MCSF team in accomplishing their fundraising and awareness goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. Data Axle is also MCSF’s full-service direct mail partner. Since this deployment, the two divisions have started exploring other ways to work together to get MCSF’s mission into the public consciousness – including a full omnichannel approach designed to enhance the donor journey.

“Data Axle is a partner that understands our mission and is proactive along the way to getting us the results we want.”
– Claire Quinn, Communications Manager, Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation

Nonprofits are continuing to innovate and engage in exciting omnichannel strategies. In order for them to be successful, clean data must be at the heart of everything they do. This speaks to the importance of ensuring that periodic data processing hygiene practices are in place. Clean, high-quality data is truly the bedrock of all advertising strategies. From direct mail to digital to CTV, accurate data enhances your ability to reach and engage potential donors.

Contact us below to discuss how to make sure your house file is accurate and actionable, and how to keep it that way.

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