Case study: Royal British Legion

The charity chose to prioritise direct mail over online fundraising when it marked VE day

Royal British Legion VE Day fundraising pack
Royal British Legion VE Day fundraising pack

Campaign: VE 65

Agency: Tangible Response

The Royal British Legion marked the 65th anniversary of VE Day with a celebration on Horse Guards Parade in central London on 8 May. It unveiled a large, temporary V-shaped statue covered in flags on which supporters had written personal messages.

The campaign

In order to get supporters to write messages and send them in with donations to the charity, the Royal British Legion sent out three direct mail packs: one to 700,000 warm supporters, a cold mail pack to 560,000 people and door-drops to four million houses in postcode areas where over-65s (its typical donors) are likely to live. Each pack contained flags and forms asking for one-off donations.

Why this approach?

The charity chose to make direct mail more of a priority than online fundraising. Guy Upward, head of direct marketing and legacies at the charity, says: "We didn't put much budget into online fundraising. Most of our supporters are over 65 and prefer responding to direct mail, so that's where most of our budget was spent.

"The fact that the completed flags were to be displayed at the event was a big incentive to fill them in."

What were the results?

The charity spent a six-figure sum on the direct mail campaign, but declined to reveal how much it was.

Upward says it generated more than £1.5m in total. More than 60,000 people donated in response to the appeal, with an average gift of £24, a figure slightly lower than the charity had hoped for.


Gail Cookson, Client services director, Watson Phillips Norman

The fundraising pack is a lovely celebration of VE Day. The envelope proclaims that this is the nation's greatest ever salute, and the letter contains some beautiful copy.

The pack was expensive, which must have affected the return on investment for postal drops.

The appeal focuses only on veterans of the Second World War, but the charity needs to work with veterans of today's wars, too. It mentions Afghanistan, but only in passing.

Interestingly, Poppy Day in November accommodates veterans of older and more recent wars. This might be because of passing time, or more effective brand campaigns.

Expert rating

Creativity: 3

Delivery: 3

Total: 6 out of 10


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