FUNDRAISING NEWS: Campaign Watch - Just Breaking

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BLISS, the premature baby charity, has launched a fundraising campaign to develop its donor database. The initiative, the latest of a series of five direct mail campaigns which started in 2001, has been carried out in collaboration with the agency Quant Marketing.

The charity chose to attract people who had never previously shown support for its actions, a strategy known as 'cold recruitment'. Recent mailing tests revealed that these potential donors are most likely to be women with children under three. Women between 20 and 30 with no children but who expressed interest in having some are also considered good targets.

Because it focuses on cold recruitment, the campaign is expected to yield a low response rate. However, the charity is still in the early stages of developing its donor database and uses all types of fundraising techniques including payroll giving, face-to-face and postal donation. Only a small proportion of the 15,000 mail packs is aimed at regular and one-off donors.

The former are expected to increase their direct debit donations, and the latter to make regular gifts.

Each mail pack is made up of a colourful leaflet and a letter. The leaflet features a picture of a baby breathing through a ventilator and being fed through a tube. By asking a straightforward question - 'Shocking, isn't it?' - BLISS hopes to encourage readers to give regularly.

Under the heading 'BLISS does not send junk mail', the charity explains that it does not proceed randomly but selects people who they believe will become committed supporters. "This approach has not often been used by charities and we are hoping that, by pre-empting the inevitable complaints of 'Oh god, not another mailing' we engage more people," said Lucinda Shaw, head of fundraising at BLISS. So far, this method has worked well for the charity.

"We address the current debates about mailing rather than being defensive about the activity," Shaw added.

BLISS also plans to develop its online donations. In May, a new web site was launched to provide more information to parents and encourage them to donate. This initiative is part of an overall strategy that aims to modernise the charity's image.

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