Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Cerebra drive boosted by data sharing

Nathalie Thomas,


In the summer of 2004, Cerebra adopted data-management technology from software firm Amcat to help increase returns on its telephone-based Coincard campaign, reducing fundraising overheads at its call centre in Bristol at the same time.

The system contributed towards a boost in telephone presentations, from an average of 20 an hour to 45. Revenue from the Coincard campaign rose by more than 50 per cent.


Cerebra's Coincard - a piece of cardboard with slots in which to place 25 pound coins - is the charity's most lucrative fundraiser, generating a yearly income of more than £1.5m. It supports the South Wales-based charity's work helping brain-damaged children.

Cerebra estimates that about one child in every 40 suffers from a neurological disability. Its broad range of projects has included initiatives such as the Scottish Cerebral Palsy Register and research into premature birth.

Agents at Cerebra's call centre make contact with potential donors, asking if they would like to be sent an empty Coincard in the post. Donors fill in the Coincard as and when they can afford it and return it after an agreed amount of time.

The charity considered implementing new fundraising technology because it wanted to reorganise how the funds were distributed.

David Irish, head of ICT at Cerebra, said: "Our goal was to spend less on the overheads needed to support our range of telephone-based fundraising campaigns, so that more money could be allocated to the actual work of the charity."

How it worked

The Microsoft-based Amcat software was integrated with Cerebra's existing database, allowing for client data and donation information to be transferred between the two systems.

The technology allowed staff at the charity's call centre to track phone interactions, capture new client data and display historical information on-screen. Call centre staff were similarly able to access real-time statistics and historical reporting, while overall operations could be monitored for performance and quality control.


The number of presentations each call centre agent could make each hour rose by between 20 and 25 calls.

After the Amcat software was adopted mid-way through 2004, revenue from Cerebra's Coincard initiative rose from £1.3m in 2003 to £1.5m. Initial estimates for 2005, which has seen Cerebra using Amcat technology throughout, place Coincard income at about £2.3m.

"We now make better use of resources through enhanced speed, management and effectiveness of campaigns," said Pauline Wilkins, head of operations at Cerebra.


Charles Collins, marketing manager, 2Touch

With everyone's attention on the so-called death of telemarketing as a viable part of the marketing mix, it's heartening to see an organisation use the medium with such success.

It's clear from the case study that Cerebra has taken a considered approach to how it wants telemarketing to work for its own purposes, and has analysed its own performance to identify weaknesses and areas where operational efficiencies could be improved.

The ability to access real-time statistics and historical information provides agents with a valuable insight into previous calls - information that can be used to improve future campaign targeting.

Successful telemarketing relies on using information and statistics to make the process as robust and measurable as possible. In Cerebra's case, the number of presentations being made and the increase in revenue provide clear indications of how performance has been improved and measured.

More worrying is the number of charities that have yet to realise the benefits that can be derived from making the investment in the necessary technologies to make telemarketing work.

Cerebra should be applauded for its commitment to making a process work more effectively. In a sector where budget scrutiny is greater than most, it provides a blueprint for success that others should consider.

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