Case Study: International Animal Rescue

Does a sense of urgency encourage more people to donate? Our expert Christopher Nield gives his verdict

International Animal Rescue
International Animal Rescue

Campaign: Emergency orangutans appeal

Agency: TW Cat

International Animal Rescue has focused most of its work this year on a campaign to end the bear trade in India.

But the charity decided to launch a new appeal to save displaced orangutans after a vet who was volunteering for the charity in Indonesia said deforestation was destroying the creatures' habitats and they were being maltreated.

The charity decided the campaign should take the form of an emergency appeal.

What was done?

The charity sent direct mail packs to 52,000 existing donors and an email to donors and prospective donors at the end of August. The campaign was, in part, a test to see how well donors would react to a proposition that was different from those they were used to receiving from the charity.

The pack contained a photo of an orangutan being looked after, a letter from the charity's chief executive explaining the reason for the emergency appeal and a letter from the vet who had initially raised the issue.

The charity decided that a simple, basic look would communicate to donors that it was spending most of its funds directly on its cause.

The charity usually sends out different direct mail packs to higher and standard-level donors, but with this campaign it decided to send the same letter to all donors. It claims this simple, quick approach emphasised the urgent nature of the appeal.

The suggested donation was tailored to individual donors, based on what they had previously given.


The charity spent more than £18,000 on the campaign. Its target was to raise £100,000 and it has so far raised £115,000.

Kaye Wiggins


EXPERT VIEW - Christopher Nield, Copywriter, Burnett Works

This is direct mail by numbers. You can barely breathe for the adjectives, clunky adverbs and thunderous calls to action.

The opening eight lines feature the words 'distressing,' 'appalling,' 'desperate,' 'shackled', 'paralysed' and 'disgusting' - not to mention 'mistreatment' and 'psychological wounds'. Block capitals, underlined sentences and subheads in bold type assault your eye and twist your arm.

This is no bad thing, of course. Successful charity appeals are not necessarily about being clever or subtle. I have only one serious criticism. If the appeal emphasises the need to liberate orangutans, isn't it confusing that the charity's first target is to 'build cages'?

Creativity: 2
Delivery: 4
Total Score: 6/10

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