Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Jewish charity boosts 'plague' mailer

Francois Le Goff, francois.legoff@haynet.com

Summary

The Fed's annual Pesach appeal is designed to help isolated and disadvantaged Jewish people to take part in the Jewish religious festival. This year, the Manchester-based charity raised £27,000 and had a 23.5 per cent response rate.

Background

The Fed supports Jewish adults and children who have mental health problems or are disadvantaged or isolated. At any one time, the charity helps between 1,200 and 1,300 people.

The Fed runs three direct mailouts each year, including two large appeals that earn the charity between £25,000 and £30,000 and a small one that raises funds specifically to enable children with special needs to go on summer holidays.

Usually begun in March, the annual appeal is run to help its clients take part in Pesach, an annual religious event that commemorates God's deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and the creation of the Israelites. The charity estimates that, each year, 150 people who want to take part cannot afford to.

The Pesach appeal has traditionally been run in-house, but this year the charity decided to recruit agency The Lab to refresh the look of the mail pack. The agency compared the problems faced by the Manchester Jewish community, which include depression, isolation and poverty, with the ten plagues that struck the Egyptians when the Jews fled Egypt 4,000 years ago.

How it worked

The Lab produced a mail pack that contained three red-and-white cartoons, each one focusing on a different 'plague' and carrying a phone number and email address for donations. There was also an insert that suggested a range of amounts, from £10 to £200, and described how they would help.

The Fed has a database of 30,000 donors among the Manchester Jewish community, but it selected only the 3,000 who had responded to appeals in the past two years.

Adverts were also placed in a local Jewish magazine with a circulation of 12,000, but the charity said it was impossible to know how much was raised through this medium.

Results

The appeal raised £27,000 from 677 responses. The Fed said that because it was well targeted, costs represented only 5 per cent of the appeal's income. "We could be more ruthless, but we are a community organisation and some of our donors are also clients," says chief executive Karen Phillips.

"A few years ago, the community complained after we featured a case study of a woman who lived from things she collected from bins. People said it was too sensational. We need to find a balance between raising awareness and sensationalism, even if it is at the expense of fundraising."

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