Focus: Fundraising - Case study - The Big Ask gets top-quality response

Georgina Lock

Recent environmental catastrophes such as floods in Mozambique, hurricanes in Florida and storms in the UK are mainly the result of increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to Friends of the Earth. The pressure group also says the Government is not doing enough to protect us from the threat of climate change.


Since last May, Friends of the Earth has been running a major climate change campaign called The Big Ask in order to raise the profile of the issue and lobby for a new law that would require the Government to take action.


The mail pack, designed by creative agency Burnett Works, is intended to upgrade existing donors or reactivate lapsed supporters. It was sent in a green envelope that featured an image of a power station and the heading 'This is The Big Ask'.

The pack contained a letter from Tony Juniper, chief executive of FoE, with the heading 'Is the Government doing enough about climate change?' and a green leaflet claiming 'This is the answer'. It also included a direct debit instruction and a letter to send to Tony Blair asking him to "give the Climate Change Bill the time it needs to become law". The pack also included an extract from an article from the front page of The Guardian headed 'Warming hits tipping point'. A flyer asked 'Is this the answer?' and depicted images such as a barren landscape, a man in a dinghy next to a submerged car, a power station and a cyclone. It also featured statistics on climate change and repeated the plea for recipients to 'Make The Big Ask'.

The pack was sent to 62,801 lapsed supporters and 26,648 existing supporters across the UK, with funding requests tailored to the recipients. For upgrades, the prompted ask was based on how much donors gave and the frequency of their gifts. The Big Ask pack was part of a wider campaign comprising adverts in independent cinemas, postcards, online activity and viral emails.


The mailing exceeded its target of £48,069 by more than 130 per cent, generating additional income of £111,593. Some £79,910 came from existing donors upgrading their level of support and the remaining £31,683 was a result of reactivating lapsed supporters. About 3,900 responses were sent to Tony Blair.

EXPERT VIEW - Chris Arnold, executive creative director, BLAC, and chairman of the DMA Agency Council.

As a keen supporter of environmental causes, this was just right for me.

The envelope uses crude gritty graphics of power station cooling towers bellowing steam, with the words 'The Big Ask'. My first reaction was "not another charity asking for a donation".

However, the thrust of the mailing was to ask for support for the campaign.

The letter is formulaic but highly informative. After reading it I was totally sold and felt the rest of the pack was unnecessary.

The leaflet 'Is this the answer?' uses shocking facts that seemed to drive the point home, as did the extract from The Guardian.

I doubt that there are many people who aren't aware of the problem. However, the solution Friends of the Earth is proposing is a worthy one.

No campaign is complete these days without a microsite, in this case It is well designed and the 'find your local MP by entering your postcode' feature is highly effective.

It won't win any awards for creativity, but it is a great sell. You can take positive action without having to march or drive to a post box, and making a donation is optional. It works for me.

Creativity: 2

Delivery: 5


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