Animal research body moves into pet welfare

CLAIRE SAMES

The Animal Health Trust is looking to raise its profile as a national animal welfare charity as well as a research organisation.

The trust plans to align itself more with other animal welfare charities such as the RSPCA and the Scottish SPCA.

"We need to consolidate our role as a national charity as we don't have the profile of the more commonly known animal welfare charities," said Keith Reid, the trust's director of finance.

"We want to show that we can give 'companion' animals a healthy future. But we're not changing from a clinical research organisation to an animal welfare charity, as we want to encompass both activities."

To get its message across, the trust is embarking on its first cold recruitment campaign in a bid to increase its donor base, which stands at 50,000 members.

The campaign is to be sent out to 150,000 potential donors, including pet owners, towards the end of November.

"Our database is too small," said Reid. "We want to build it up and give ourselves a national profile by generating public awareness of what we do."

The mailout will play on the trust's ability to save the lives of animals.

"Our core proposition is very appealing when the benefits are pointed out," said Ted Chandler, Animal Health Trust's executive chairman. "For instance, understanding what causes pet cancer is a big area for us. One in four dogs will contract it. And in cats, it's one in six. These are staggering statistics. But by encouraging donors to give a gift, we can offer hope of a cure to pet lovers everywhere."

The trust has increased its emphasis on fundraising by expanding the fundraising team from three to eight staff members in the last year.

Lesley Graham, a TV presenter on Channel 4 Racing, heads the fundraising function having joined the charity earlier this year.

According to Reid, the animal charity has an income of £10 million a year and plans to raise this significantly.

This is the first piece of direct marketing the trust has undertaken since its appointment of the Domain Group, an integrated communications agency for social causes.

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