Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Hospice raises a glass to £190k appeal

Helen Barrett


Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Surrey raised £190,559 with a multimedia campaign created in-house, which included press, online and ambient marketing.

A further £59,853 a year has been pledged in direct debit donations.


The hospice has a fundraising target of £500,000 a year to provide palliative care for people with cancer and motor neurone disease, but during 2004/05 it experienced a drop in legacy income and donations. By January 2006, legacy income was 50 per cent below budget and 70 per cent down on the previous year. Donations were 25 per cent below budget. The hospice launched the Living Appeal to make up the funding shortfall.

How it worked

The fundraising team invited local media to the hospice and announced that four of its 18 beds would be closing. The session focused on the hospice's need to raise £500, 000 a year.

A direct mail pack requesting monthly donations of between £10 and £850 was created in-house and mailed to a database of 16,000 warm supporters.

It highlighted the urgent need for funds in the face of falling donations and illustrated the hospice's work with two real-life stories. The chief executive's accompanying letter concentrated on three facts: that the hospice is not part of the NHS; how much it costs to run; and that current donations are not enough.

The hospice also produced 10,000 themed beer-mats requesting a text donation, with costs covered by local company Property for Life. Another local firm, Media2u, created a viral video postcard for the hospice's website, featuring a motor neurone disease patient asking people to get behind the campaign, which the fundraising team distributed by email to supporters and posted on video-sharing website


Local television news and radio covered the story and local newspapers gave it front-page coverage. The appeal raised £190,559 and achieved 313 new direct debits. More than £82,000 was donated by new donors, and more than 400 donations were made online. The campaign cost £20,690, which meant that £9.21 was raised for every £1 spent.

Isabel Campbell, head of fundraising at the charity, said: "We are delighted. The key achievements of the campaign are the new standing orders and the high percentage of new donors."

EXPERT VIEW - Patrick Norrie, head of copywriting, WWAV Rapp Collins

Reading the opening paragraphs of the letter for the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice appeal told me all I needed to know. I learned that donations were down significantly and that projected income would not cover the cost of running the hospice, but I also learned that I could do something about it.

In a world of mailings that are full to bursting with technique but on starvation rations when it comes to candour and emotion, this pack appealed to me. The letter was honest, personable and direct. The brochure may be slightly disjointed in its look (yes, I'm being a little picky here) but it tackled the issues head on.

This mailing was created in-house by the very people who run the hospice, and their passion and determination to keep the hospice open shone through in the words they used and the way they told the story.

No sensationalised, overwritten copy, no fussy design, just a heartfelt appeal. The pack looks slightly homespun (some might say 'real' - is there a lesson for larger charities to learn here?), but that all adds to the charm. And the beermat campaign gave the appeal an extra dimension.

Good luck to them.

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