Focus: Fundraising - Case study - The Brooke triples its mailpack target

Georgina Lock

The Brooke, the overseas equine animal welfare organisation, has many committed supporters but had never before asked them to increase their regular gifts. As the charity was expanding its operations, it decided to approach donors to ask for more.


The Brooke was founded in Egypt in 1934 by animal lover Dorothy Brooke.

It has been working there ever since, providing veterinary care and treatment to horses, donkeys and mules. As a result, many supporters have an affinity with Egypt, making it an appropriate case study for further fundraising.

How it worked

In July last year, a direct mail pack was sent to 8,000 regular donors who gave up to £250 per year, excluding those who had recently started giving or upgraded independently.

The pack, which carried a handwritten message on the envelope, highlighted Egypt as an example of where the Brooke's vets do much of their work and outlined the need to expand into the vast Nile Delta region, where it says many animals are suffering.

Enclosed was a black-and-white photo-montage of the work, headed with: "A Brooke mobile team: the need for their skill and care is never-ending ..."

On the back was a standing order and Gift Aid form.

The pack also included a letter by Bill Swann, head of international development at the Brooke, explaining how hard the vets work. The letter began with the line: "Our vets in Egypt are stretched to the limit. Their commitment to the animals is total, but we need more mobile teams. Can you help?"

Each letter highlighted the regular gift given by the recipient and asked for an increase, each depending on the amount already given. For example, someone giving £5 a month was asked to give an extra £1.50 "to reach many more suffering animals".


The target was a 5 per cent response and an average increase of £1.50 per month. But 19 per cent responded - nearly 1,500 donors. The average gift increase was £2.50 a month, with a further 2 per cent giving an average cash gift of £25.

Over the 12 months, the people who responded to the appeal will be giving an extra £45,000 to the charity - far exceeding the original target of £15,000.


This is hardworking direct marketing fundraising. No daft gimmicks, distracting novelties or irrelevant 'involvers' - just a straight proposition backed up by passionate argument, a reasoned business case and, most important of all, excellent results.

In carrying a handwritten message, the envelope falls halfway between a one-to-one communication and direct mail. You can see how it avoids the donor's junk mail filter.

With its typeset headline, the letter again falls between a personal message and a functional direct mail appeal. Head of international development Bill Swann tells of his visit to the Nile Delta, where he saw for himself the need to introduce more mobile veterinary teams. I could have done with a breakdown of the costs involved, and it's a shame somebody didn't invest in having Swann's handwriting made into a printing font, but it serves its purpose.

The donation form is also a halfway house, so if there's any room for improvement in this mailing, that's where it lies. Either this is a functional fundraising appeal or a personal communication from the signatory to the donor. As it stands, it's delivered great results while not quite being entirely either - which is an achievement in itself.

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