Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Newspaper appeal raises £123,000

Georgina Lock, georgina.lock@haynet.com

The Independent on Sunday is one of many newspapers that carry a Christmas appeal for charity. Each week from 27 November to 8 January, the paper published stories about ActionAid's work in the Pakistan earthquake zone.

BACKGROUND

Several aid agencies were invited by the IoS to pitch stories about their work in the Pakistan earthquake zone. After a verbal and written proposal, ActionAid was chosen. Seven days later, press officer Daniel Mazliah flew to the area with IoS journalist Julia Stuart for a ten-day story-gathering trip. They visited a remote mountain village where the charity is supporting homeless people, an ActionAid medical camp and a refugee camp containing 10,000 people. Stuart also interviewed the organisation's staff and volunteers, many of whose homes had been destroyed.

HOW IT WORKED

The appeal was handled by ActionAid's corporate partnerships team in London and its supporter services in Somerset.

Six features on the different challenges facing Pakistanis and ActionAid's work were published - two more than were planned - because the IoS was so impressed by the charity's work.

Alongside each feature was a branded coupon showing how readers could donate and a 'shopping list' explaining, for example, that stocking a medical camp for two weeks costs £235.

ActionAid's supporter services team was geared up to take calls on a freephone number and receive email and postal donations. It also kept the IoS updated on donations received.

RESULTS

The previous year's IoS appeal raised £25,000 each for two charities, so ActionAid, the sole beneficiary this time, set an initial target of £50,000.

The appeal has raised more than £123,000 through donations ranging from 50p to £10,000. About 71 per cent of donors used the coupon to send a cheque, 15 per cent donated using the freephone number and 14 per cent gave online. The campaign also highlighted the challenges facing those affected by the earthquake and helped to raise the profile of the charity.

Richard Miller, UK director of ActionAid, said: "In Pakistan's time of need, IoS readers' response has been nothing short of magnificent."

EXPERT VIEW

David Coe, managing director, Cascaid Consulting

The results of this appeal say it all: £123,000 raised against an initial target of £50,000. It had all the ingredients of a classic: an urgent cause, which had moved off the news agenda slightly and where conditions were worsening; and the ability to focus directly on the beneficiaries, their appalling suffering and most urgent needs. The range of stories was guaranteed to move the most resistant donor to give, with a 'shopping list' and high £100 prompt. I loved the updates on how the campaign was doing and, most importantly, how the money was being spent.

To be picky, the one thing that jarred was the sentence telling me that 75 per cent of my donation was going to be spent on emergency relief, with the remainder on prevention. At no point was I told what those preventive measures would be. There was also a slight dissonance between the website telling me these were preventive measures mainly in Pakistan and some editorial informing me the preventive measures would be worldwide.

On a technical note, I was surprised by the split in donation mechanisms used by donors, with only 14 per cent giving online. What does that tell us about Independent on Sunday readers?

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