Centrepoint houses and supports vulnerable young people in London and north-east England.
The charity runs an annual fundraising campaign in November and December to pay for its services over the Christmas period. It also aims to recruit new regular donors during this period to help support its long-term plans. The 2008 appeal ran from 15 November to 31 December. The financial target was £300,000.
How it worked
The charity sent 100,000 cold contacts a cardboard coin carrier with a hole the size of a pound coin in the centre, explaining that £1 could pay for a hot meal for a homeless young person.
Letters to say thank you for an initial £1 donation but not asking for further donations were sent to all respondents and followed up by a phone call that encouraged them to become regular givers.
The charity also sent letters to 25,000 warm donors: these contained details of the charity's work and a donation form. This move was followed by a personal reminder letter three weeks later from one of the charity's service managers.
Adverts were placed in two national newspapers and in London Underground stations. A dedicated page was also created on the charity's website.
The appeal raised £345,000, excluding money raised from the follow-up phone calls, which was counted separately: they raised an additional £46,000.
The mailing asking for a £1 donation achieved a 50 per cent higher response rate than expected, and the phone calls achieved 17 per cent more direct debit sign-ups than anticipated. The press campaign recruited 1,300 new regular donors and online giving doubled year on year.
The first warm mailing did not achieve its targets, but the second, more personal letter was more successful.
A spokeswoman for Centrepoint says the charity was pleased with the overall response rate. However, she declines to give any more information. "We are happy to share with the sector, but we have to bear in mind that things are set to toughen up in the current climate and we don't want to divulge all of our trade secrets," she says.
EXPERT VIEW - STEPHEN PIDGEON, CHAIRMAN, TANGIBLE RESPONSE
Nearly £400,000 is a lot of money to raise in a pre-Christmas period dominated by financial gloom. So congratulations to Centrepoint, even though there is nothing to tell us what the costs were.
The context is interesting: UK-based charities dealing with issues that had suddenly become more important to British people - job loss, eviction, poverty, struggle - all seemed to achieve good results last Christmas.
Coin packs mailed to a cold list and followed up by phone calls are nothing new. But it's a great technique, and Centrepoint did it well.
So why the frightfully coy "We are happy to share with the sector, but ..."? One of the triumphs of our sector is the commitment of charities to collaborating on marketing issues. In these tough times, it is more vital than ever that such collaboration continues.
This was a good campaign. There was a clear, motivating proposition and coordinated activity: cold and warm mailings, telephone follow-up, press advertising, tailored web pages and a personal reminder letter - always a winner. This kind of work requires huge energy. But the outcome is a pile of new supporters and a campaign ready to roll next Christmas.
Total: 8 out of 10