Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Parkinson's phone trial nets £24,361

Nathalie Thomas,


In August, the Parkinson's Disease Society tested a telephone fundraising campaign that targeted its warm donor base. Managed by telephone fundraising specialists Pure, the trial campaign raised £24,361.


The four-week telephone fundraising trial was launched in mid-August as a follow-up to a previous direct mail initiative, which sought to raise money for skin patches that deliver controlled doses of medication to Parkinson's patients. The telephone campaign focused on the skin patches for a second time, but also highlighted the society's long-term targets.

In 2005, for example, the charity has been campaigning for better access to specialist Parkinson's nurses, exemption from prescription charges for Parkinson's patients, improved support for carers, better access to drug treatment for Parkinson's patients living in care homes and the provision of more information to encourage self-management.

Three sets of warm donors were targeted by the campaign: 'ad hoc' cash donors who were not members of the charity, 'ad hoc' givers who were members and 560 additional donors who had responded to the previous mailing.

In total, 1,511 warm donors were contacted.

The Parkinson's Disease Society intended to turn these donors into regular givers, so the callers concentrated on committed giving by direct debit.

Paperless direct debit was promoted where possible. Pure fundraising staff also encouraged donors to sign Gift Aid declarations.

How it worked

Local branch volunteers of the Parkinson's Disease Society were involved in training callers because of the sensitive nature of the campaign.

"Some of the calls were to carers and people with direct experience of Parkinson's disease," explains Jon Eserin, marketing director at Pure.

Pure also liaised with Optima, the agency responsible for the charity's previous mail campaign, for advice about the target audience. All 1,511 donors were contacted during a four-week period and calls were followed up with pledge documentation through the post. Paperwork was sent out the day after donor calls were made.


A total of £24,361 was raised from the trial. The most responsive segment of the charity's donor base proved to be the 'ad hoc' donors who were already Parkinson's Disease Society members. The campaign generated positive feedback. "For many it was a chance to speak directly about their perceptions of the society," Eserin says.

According to Hugo Middlemiss, director of fundraising at the Parkinson's Disease Society, the charity has already rolled out the next stage of the telephone campaign and will continue to run it into 2006.


Telemarketing has taken a battering over the past few months, and it's the most hotly disputed area of consumer contact at the moment. It's seen as probably the most intrusive contact channel, with consumers becoming increasingly hostile to calls.

However, when undertaken in the right way, telemarketing isn't something we should be frightened of. Tailored communications, encouraging interaction and ongoing donor care can all be achieved. The case study by the Parkinson's Disease Society is a great example of this.

Comprehensive agent training enables calls to deliver campaign information and broader communications about the charity and engage with supporters.

Explanation of the benefits of the skin patches should be delivered by someone with the right knowledge.

If the medium works, continue with it as part of an integrated campaign.

Analyse the results of the pilot campaign and develop a more comprehensive programme of supporter contact. It's not surprising existing members have proved the most responsive segment. But use this information - identify the characteristics of those with the highest propensity to donate and find those who display similar characteristics. This is not the most creative campaign, but it's a case of building on the success of the pilot to turn it into an integral component of ongoing fundraising.

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