WORKSHOP: CASE STUDY - Spana develops anniversary appeal

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Background: Founded in 1923, the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad aims to improve the health and welfare of working, domestic and feral animals. The charity takes mobile clinics on the road to treat injured and maltreated animals through a network of 19 veterinary centres and 21 mobile clinics designed to reach remote desert villages in North and West Africa and the Middle East. Altogether, Spana treats more than 300,000 animals a year.

Because it believes that education is key to the success of its mission, the charity runs a series of programmes to encourage respect for animals and promote conservation of wildlife. It also helps veterinary students in poor areas with their training by teaching them surgical skills.

In January 2003 to mark its 80th anniversary, Spana contacted marketing and design agency Bluefrog to devise a fundraising appeal. Four months earlier, the agency had developed a Christmas mailing campaign targeting the charity's warm donors, people recruited over the past two years.

Aims The appeal aimed to build an educational animal handling ventre in Jordan. Animals would be kept in the centre so that visitors could learn about them and their behaviour. The centre would include a classroom, a small exhibition space, pasture for grazing and woodlands. Having already bought the land, Spana hoped this special appeal would help them cover the construction costs.

How it worked Spana sent a mail-out to approximately 12,600 donors, mainly women of retirement age recruited through national press inserts. The appeal was segmented according to past gifts, with donors invited to give a little more. It focused on the plight of an injured donkey, Tinklet, to demonstrate both the problem and solution with an emotional appeal.

"We really needed to pull something out of the bag to commemorate our 80th anniversary year," said Caroline Pons, director of fundraising and publicity at Spana. "Bluefrog's strategy captured the essence of our cause and used Tinklet's story to put forward a clear, yet emotive appeal."

Bluefrog's appeal worked in three ways. First, the donkey's veterinary record was included for the donor to keep, making the appeal individual and tangible while tying into the medical theme. The mail-out included a set of plans to show exactly how the new centre would be set up to aid the community, stressing the tangible 'bricks and mortar' aspect of the appeal.

The final element was Spana's 80th birthday, a time to reflect and look to the future. A brief history was included to commemorate the achievements of the charity as well as outlining its plans for a lasting education resource at the Jordan centre.

Results The appeal was a record-breaking success. It achieved a 30 per cent response and a return on investment of 9 per cent, raising nearly £160,000 for the Jordan project. SPANA was thrilled that an appeal launched for such an occasion had generated so much enthusiasm.

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