Case study: Crisis

The homelessness charity raised £5.4m and gained 75,000 donors in last year's campaign

Crisis at Christmas
Crisis at Christmas

Organisation: Crisis

Campaign: Crisis at Christmas

Agency: Catalyst

Crisis raised £5.4m and gained 75,000 donors with its 2012 Christmas appeal - and the secret of its success has been put down to the inclusion of a decimal point.

The homelessness charity has been running its annual campaign for decades, but in the past four years it has been honing a proposition that requests a specific amount from donors to reserve a place for a homeless person at its Crisis at Christmas event. In 2012, it asked for £20.48.

Edward Tait, acting director of fundraising at the charity, says the message has been working across various channels, including direct mail and radio. For 2012, it added TV, with an appeal, narrated by Sir Ian McKellen, featuring clients and volunteers.

The specific amount the charity asks for changes each year, depending on the cost of providing its services.

"People want something tangible when they make a donation," Tait says. "The figure shows them they are making a difference. I think leaving in that decimal point in the cost shows this is a real event that does something specific."

The £2.5m campaign included more than double the number of door drops, press inserts and radio slots of the previous year. In 2011, the campaign raised £3.5m and the charity gained 50,000 new donors. The 2012 campaign has built on that success, according to Tait, even when the extra costs are taken into account.

"The sum of the parts is bigger than the individual elements," he says.

"Radio and TV deliver, but they also lift the entire campaign."

Supporters are thanked with a letter and a phone call. The charity's supporter services manager, Karen Hardy, also recorded a video thanks. These communciations also make a 'soft ask', suggesting the donor could support the charity all year round.

The website landing page includes a scrolling page of recent donations that allows users to add a message.

It shows the cost of providing between one and 10 places at Crisis at Christmas and a list of the services included, such as hot meals, a shower and health and housing advice.

EXPERT VIEW: Chris Arnold, creative partner, Creative Orchestra

Chris Arnold, creative partner, Creative Orchestra This is a classic and powerful campaign that ran at a very competitive time of year for charities but cut through the competition well. The use of £20.48 as the figure makes it all feel more real. The simple idea of 'reserving a place' is tangible; you feel you are making a difference. A feature on the website that I found very compelling was the list of what people had donated, including many gifts of £2,048 (100 places). It plays off social norms: when others are giving, you want to give too.

Creativity: 4
Delivery: 5
9 OUT OF 10

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