Fundraising: Case study - Fast campaign expects to net £1.6m

Francois Le Goff

Summary

Concern Fast is a multimedia appeal run by Irish overseas aid charity Concern. Last year's appeal, which has so far raised £1.29m, is expected to match the previous record of £1.6m because donations will keep coming in until November.

Background

Unlike Cafod's Lent Fast appeal and World Vision's 24-hour Famine, which are both run in February, the Concern Fast appeal takes place in November.

Launched for Christmas in 1969, it was first known as the Concern Christmas Fast. With around 8 per cent of the population taking part each year, it has become one of the biggest fundraising events in Ireland.

Concern Fast asks the public to get sponsorship to give up food for 24 hours. It incorporates direct mail, direct response TV, radio, telemarketing, face-to-face fundraising and e-mails.

Research carried out by the overseas aid charity in 1998 indicates that 60 per cent of fasters are female, and that a large number of them are aged between 25 and 35.

How it worked

A direct mail pack, including a letter and a sponsorship form, was sent by agency TW CAT to 18,145 warm donors on 11 October, followed by a reminder postcard and phone calls. People who had taken part in Concern Fast the previous year received a tailored request that reminded them of their donation and asked them to beat that amount. Mail packs were also sent to 517 schools. To increase sponsorship money and create competition between schools, the charity created incentives, with the top prize of a field trip to a Concern project overseas.

There were two TV ads, each of which was shown in 30-second, 20-second and 10-second versions, plus one 60-second version that was broadcast on E4, MTV and Sky One. A Fast fulfillment pack was sent to people who responded to the TV ads, radio ads, posters and direct mail. There were different versions for the Republic of Ireland and for Northern Ireland.

All the materials were sent out six weeks in advance.

Results

The campaign has raised 2m euros so far (£1.29m) and has cost 400,000 euros (£256,000). Concern said although it will not have the final results until November, it is confident it is going to match its 2003 record of 2.5m euros (£1.6m). The warm direct mail appeal raised £652,062, with an average gift of £85 and a response rate of 42 per cent. The mail pack that was sent to secondary schools raised £382,776 with an average gift per school of £1,514 and a response rate of 46 per cent. In total, 240 schools took part in the event.

The 2,647 individuals that were recruited through face-to-face fundraising, radio and TV adverts and word of mouth raised £260,888. Out of those taking part, 36 per cent were recruited through face-to-face, 15 per cent by TV adverts and 15 per cent by word of mouth.

EXPERT VIEW

Mark Pearson, creative director, TDA

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the fable of the goose that lays golden eggs.

If you're lucky enough to own such a creature, please don't feel tempted to cook it for dinner - leave it in peace to go on making you a fortune. Concern has an annual fast that has been going for more than 30 years and raises more than 2 million euros each year. If you were its head of fundraising what would you do? Change it? Try a radical new approach?

Or stick to the proven formula?

This is a fundraising campaign whose success was sealed with a 'Kiss' - 'keep it simple, stupid'. Every element has been reduced to its simplest expression - from the 'Fast' branding to the short copy that resists pompous development rhetoric - and, in fact, tells you very little about Concern's work. The competition giving school students the chance to win a trip to a Concern project is a nice touch that has been carried over from the previous year.

Concern has a reputation for creating direct response TV adverts on a shoestring, which is reflected in the vox pop ads for the fast. Having the public recite the message helps create a feeling of mass participation and builds credibility. The TV has a positive, fun feel that is maintained by the warm, conversational tone of the lift letter in the fulfilment pack.

I can't see much evidence of anything new in this campaign so it's hard to be generous with the creative marks - but the delivery speaks for itself.

At least the golden goose lives on for another year.

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