In a difficult economy, museums have a hard enough time raising money. Of course, for museums that have not yet opened, they face an even bigger challenge: inspiring people to become members BEFORE the grand opening.

That’s exactly the story with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is slated to open in 2015.

Even before its 2012 groundbreaking, the museum has relied on direct mail services to acquire charter members. The latest control effort has been in the mail for the last year and it focuses on “remarkable stories” of the African American experience, while appealing to “everyone who calls themselves an American.”