Case study: WSPA goes ape over results of appeal

How the WSPA saved the Nyaru Menteng orang-utan sanctuary.

Organisation: WSPA
Campaign: Orang-utan Rescue
Agency: In-house with Cascaid and Pure


The World Society for the Protection of Animals has raised nearly £374,000 to date from an emergency online, direct mail, telephone and press fundraising appeal to keep open the Nyaru Menteng orang-utan sanctuary in Borneo. The appeal was planned to coincide with Orang-utan Diaries, a week-long series of programmes on BBC television, which ran from 2 to 6 April this year.


The Nyaru Menteng sanctuary houses 632 orang-utans in different stages of its rehabilitation programme. The sanctuary ran out of money at the end of 2006, leaving its work under threat. WSPA donated money to the sanctuary to allow it to stay open until May 2007, giving the charity time to plan and develop the appeal, which was launched in the same week as the television series.

How it worked

The appeal's target is £400,000. A direct mail pack was sent to 80,824 supporters, WSPA's entire donor file, which included 7,312 lapsed donors.

The charity chose not to send the pack to 4,097 existing high-value supporters. Instead it sent teaser postcards advertising the BBC documentary to that group and followed up with phone calls. Of those, 77 per cent could not be contacted, so were then sent the mail pack.

Sixty major donors were also sent teaser postcards and the direct mail pack. An additional small group of major donors who had previously said they had an interest in orang-utans were approached with requests for gifts based on previous levels of donation.

The mail pack and telephone campaign asked for amounts based on donors' previous giving histories. Press adverts asked for one-off donations of £15, but included the option to donate £25 and £50. A dedicated website,, included shopping lists demonstrating the possible benefits to the sanctuary of donations ranging from £10 to £500.


The appeal has raised £373,872 to date, with money still coming in, and has achieved a return on investment of 6.9 per cent. "The need to raise these funds at short notice really pulled together the press, web and fundraising teams," says Fiona Kitson, direct marketing manager at WSPA. "We are really pleased with the results, especially as they were achieved in addition to planned activity."

Expert view

Sanjay Nazerali, managing director, The Depot

Among the most motivating factors in any charity campaign is a sense of urgency. Equally, the chance to demonstrate your organisation's efforts on TV is one bestowed only on a lucky few. WSPA's campaign to save the sanctuary in Borneo, however, benefited from both.

Orang-utan Diaries ventured into the UK's living rooms at 7pm every day for a whole week in April. The shows were a touching insight into the sanctuary, and the weight they will have added to the WSPA's appeal is difficult to overestimate.

The sanctuary had been living on borrowed time for several months, giving the campaign a critical edge that both the direct mail and press exploit. The creative also links to the series by using a presenter, Michaela Strachan, to front the appeal.

But the materials themselves, except for a letter from Strachan herself, seem reluctant to milk the link. They convey the urgency of the appeal, but their direct style is formulaic and familiar. For me this lessens their impact. Nevertheless, the combination of direct mail, press, telephone and web achieved strong results, and the campaign looks set to achieve its laudable objective.

Creativity: 2
Delivery: 4
Overall: 6/10

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