Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Cats Protection puts cash in the kitty

Francois Le Goff, francois.legoff@haynet.com

Summary

Cats Protection's kitten appeal is the charity's second-biggest annual appeal after its Christmas drive. Sent out in February, this year's appeal has so far raised £297,000, £18,000 more than the previous one. The response rate was between 10 and 11 per cent.

Background

Cats Protection targeted 100,000 donors to highlight the impending influx of kittens to its centres during spring and summer each year. Last year, about 21,000 feral kittens came into the charity's care. "Cats Protection rehomes 60,000 cats a year," said Susan Gorridge, acting head of marketing at Cats Protection. "We want to keep supporters informed about how their money is used, while emphasising that there is a seasonal peak in the number of cats and kittens needing care."

This year's kitten appeal was sent to a mixture of members, donors and recent cat adopters.

Sarah Don-Bramah, account director at TDA, said: "The kitten appeal is an important part of Cats Protection's fundraising calendar. As well as caring for kittens, it has the long-term objective of reducing the number of unwanted litters through education and neutering programmes."

The charity is committed to a non-euthanasia policy and promotes relatively low-cost neutering schemes instead.

How it worked

The creative strategy, devised by TDA, involved a core mailing and a follow-up a month later. The appeal gave supporters feedback on what their donations to the previous appeal helped Cats Protection to achieve.

It included pictures of some of the kittens the charity helped and a letter from the manager of one of Cats Protection's 260 branches across the UK, thanking supporters for their past donations.

The letter used emotive language such as the headline "21,000 desperate cries - will you help?". A reminder mail was sent a month later. It served to create a sense of urgency, saying that the charity expected to receive the first kittens at any time.

Results

The appeal has raised £297,000 to date, an increase on the £278,976 raised last year. The response rate was between 10 and 11 per cent.

"Funds are still coming in, so it is on a par with past appeals, including the Christmas appeal, our other main drive," said Kate Bunting, press officer at Cats Protection. She said that the kitten appeal was generally successful because supporters understand the continuing strains put on the organisation each year during the summer season.

The funds raised will cover various costs associated with the kittens' care before their rehoming.

EXPERT VIEW - MIKE COLLING, MANAGING DIRECTOR, MIKE COLLING AND COMPANY

Do you remember the Miaow Mix ad from the 1970s? The one that, basically, involved a cat singing, "miaowmiaowmiaowmiaow" on an endless loop? The creatives behind this pack clearly do, because the miaow count on the outer envelope at least matches its feline forerunner. In fact, the team clearly knows its target audience pretty well: from the miaows on the envelope to the innumerable pictures of well-cuddled and lovingly bottle-fed kittens inside, this is a design tailor-made to tug at the heart-strings of the nation's slightly sentimental cat lovers.

Of course, plying cat lovers with lots of pictures of cats is an easy win. But this is also a well-crafted piece: there is evidence of the need (21,000 kittens needing our help, to be precise), proof of how the money is used (three case studies and three examples of other areas where cash is needed) and evidence of the fact that Cats Protection is a credible organisation ready to deal with the need.

It might get a fairly low score for originality, but for tidy craft and sympathy-generation, it scores pretty high.

The relative success of the campaign is less clear. A response rate of between 10 and 11 per cent isn't a disgrace, but it's not brilliant either.

There is a good level of average gift, but this could simply reflect the profile of the donor base. Could a little more creativity have helped lift them?

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