Fundraising: Case study - Crusaid's walk gets new lease of life

Francois Le Goff

Summary

Last year, Crusaid revamped the promotional materials for Walk for Life, its biggest fundraising event, to extend its audience and improve the clarity and accessibility of the information. It raised £300,000, a 50 per cent increase on 2003's event.

Background

Held each year since 1989, the Walk for Life is a 10km sponsored walk through Central London. It is held in support of projects in the UK and overseas which help people to cope with HIV and Aids.

Promotional materials, comprising a poster and a postcard, are put in public places such as the London Underground and health clubs. These invite people to register free of charge, either online or by phone. Participants, mainly Londoners, receive a fundraising pack and can set up their own online fundraising page, supplied by online charity-giving service Justgiving, direct from Crusaid's website.

With response rates starting to fall, and no change in the creative team in four years, the charity decided to recruit a new agency. The aim was to revamp the advertising to increase registrations and attract more young people aged 20-25, and young parents in particular.

How it worked

In January 2004, Crusaid organised three focus groups: one made up of people who take part in the walk each year, one for people who have only done it once, and another for people who have thought of doing it but never have. The idea was to gather their views on how to improve the advertising pack.

The materials kept the same yellow colour and logo, a walking figure with the Earth as a body and a red ribbon as a pair of legs.

"Yellow is a good colour - it is bright and isn't used a lot in fundraising events," says Crusaid's sponsored event manager Nigel Seymour.

The poster was given a new layout, including photos of the event, and provided information in bullet points about what to expect, focusing on how it might appeal to young people and families.

The postcard, however, changed radically. The previous year's card focused on a message from celebrities Graham Norton, Rhona Cameron and Richard Blackwood, saying: "Put on your shoes and get walking." The new version did mention that the trio supported the event, but instead used photographs of previous races. Below these appeared the line "I don't get out of bed for less than 10k", a parody of the famous Linda Evangelista comment.

Results

Around 2,500 participants took part in the walk last year, raising a total of £300,000, an increase of 50 per cent on 2003. With an unchanged marketing budget of £20,000, Crusaid recruited 537 people through its posters and postcards, compared with 269 in 2003. People gave an average of £148.

Online donations, though, doubled, raising £110,000. Nigel Seymour explained that it was made easier for people to set up their own online fundraising page than previously: "Before, people would end up on the main page after submitting their details, and have to go somewhere else on the website to set up their fundraising page. In 2004, it was integrated."

The postcards placed in health clubs met with great success, the number of people who picked them up increasing by 300 per cent.

EXPERT VIEW - Chris Arnold, creative director, Feel

There is a famous debate about functionality versus design. The designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh was being criticised on the grounds that his beautiful chair was not comfortable to sit on and, therefore, was not functional.

Mackintosh pointed out that as a chair spent more of its time being looked at than sat on, it was in fact more functional than the bland chair his critic was sitting on.

Although I have no doubt that this campaign does the job, it seems a missed opportunity not to have produced something more innovative and attractive. Running a creative agency, I am a great believer in using the power of ideas to motivate people. The only piece that contains any inspiration is the postcard, 'I don't get out of bed for less than 10k'.

This is humorous, and has a far greater impact than the rest.

The use of celebrities is a powerful tool - the public loves them. However, they are not used with any real effect - just as tags on the bottom of one postcard. The use of brash yellow seems a crude way to grab attention when a big idea could do it better.

I find functional advertising a missed opportunity. If you think of any great campaign, like those run by the NSPCC, fpa, the National Aids Trust or the RSPCA, then you would soon start to see just where the opportunity has been missed.

The results suggest that this campaign worked well for Crusaid, but with a bit of imagination and a clever strategy you wonder just how much better it could have worked.

Creativity: 1

Delivery: 2

3/10.

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