Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Appeal nets £61,725 for asthma group

Georgina Lock

In the run-up to Christmas, Asthma UK launched an appeal highlighting the disparity between those families spending the festive season together and those with a child in hospital suffering from asthma. The aim was to raise £52,650 to fund research into the condition.

BACKGROUND

A direct mail pack with an advent calendar and a letter from Donna Covey, chief executive of Asthma UK, was sent out to 20,813 of the charity's warm supporters across the UK. The letter thanked them for their previous support and explained how the money raised would help in the organisation's research - in particular, a plan to compare the muscle cells in lungs of people with asthma with muscle cells in healthy lungs.

HOW IT WORKED

Each 'ask' in the pack was tailored to an individual level so each supporter was asked to give a donation based on their personal giving history. The prompts were set at three levels, including their highest gift to date and a further option to select their own amount.

Wave developed creative ideas for the direct mail pack and Asthma UK worked on the copy in-house.

The pack included six different variations of the letter from the chief executive, tailored to supporters' giving behaviour.

The appeal also contained the case study of a child whose asthma symptoms cannot always be controlled by existing treatments, a response form, a freepost envelope and an advent calendar with doors concealing reminders to support the charity, thanks for past support and useful numbers.

Three weeks later a postcard-sized reminder was sent to all recipients, thanking responders and urging non-responders to make donations.

The appeal also launched the first Asthma UK web appeal page - from a link on the home page, visitors could read about the appeal and donate online.

RESULTS

So far, 3,812 people have responded to the appeal and more than £61,725 has been raised.

The selection criteria aimed to reduce the number of donors mailed and led to a response rate of more than 18 per cent.

Vicky Collins, project manager at Asthma UK, said: "We feel that strong design, targeted copy and careful data selections have helped to make this campaign a success."

EXPERT VIEW - ROBBIE RAE, CREATIVE GROUP HEAD, WWAV RAPP COLLINS, LONDON

Christmas is a fantastic time of year if you're surrounded by your family and friends. But if things aren't going well for you, I imagine all the 'It's a wonderful life' sentiment must conspire to make you feel rather more gloomy.

Which is why this mailing for Asthma UK, urging me to "help a child with asthma this Christmas", finds me in an attentive mood.

The letter is compelling and sensitive. It reminds me that, as a result of their condition, "children like Jordan have to spend Christmas away from their loved ones". A heartbreaking thought. The charm of this letter is that children and their families are the focus - with research playing a secondary role.

The advent calendar is not a new fundraising idea. The more critical among us might even debate the logic that hides salient information behind 24 separate doors that might never be opened. But that doesn't get in the way of a piece of work that is nicely designed, intelligently planned - tailored according to the donors' previous giving history - and responsive.

The mailing is followed up by a postcard leading with two words we could probably all say to our donors a little more - "thank you".

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