Case Study: Barnardo's

The charity used Russian doll paperchains to reveal a story of child abuse. Mark Roper gives his expert view

Barnardo's campaign
Barnardo's campaign

Campaign: I Promised Not To Tell

Agency: Bluefrog

The campaign

In April, Barnardo's sent a direct mail pack to 25,000 regular donors, asking them to increase their monthly donations. The pack contained a Russian doll paper chain, a smiley face sticker and a letter telling readers about a 12-year-old girl called Olivia (based on a real case) who was sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend.

Supporters were asked to attach the smiley face sticker to their direct debit forms if they chose to increase their donations.

Why this approach?

Harpreet Kondel, assistant director of fundraising and supporter marketing at the charity, said the pack went to supporters for whom the charity did not have a contact number. Most of these supporters were over 55 and relatively high earners, she said.

"It's quite difficult to persuade people to give more using direct mail, so we tried to produce a pack that would send a strong message," she said. "Sexual abuse is an emotive subject."

The campaign used paper Russian dolls because counsellors working for the charity use them to encourage children to write their feelings down. As the dolls get smaller, the children write on them about things they find it increasingly hard to talk about.

What were the results?

Kondel says 1.4 per cent of those who received the pack responded by increasing their donations, giving on average an extra £2.50 a month. The charity's previous donor upgrade campaign, in 2008, had a response rate of 0.92 per cent. Barnardo's spent £21,265 on the campaign.


Kaye Wiggins

EXPERT VIEW - Mark Roper, Managing director, Whitewater

"Why more now?" was the question I kept asking as I read through this piece. There was no genuinely good reason why Barnardo's required the donor to give more than their present levels.

This was a shame because I thought the creative work on the campaign would make recipients feel involved.

The Russian doll approach enabled them to connect with the issue much more effectively than a case study would have done. And I am sure the sticker would have worked well for a percentage of the target market.

However, on a mailing to existing donors, I would have hoped for a better return on investment.

Expert rating
Creativity: 4
Delivery: 3
Total: 7 out of 10

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