This week is the Prostate Cancer Charity's awareness week. It provides support and information for those affected by the disease, which claims nearly 10,000 men's lives a year in the UK. Since it was set up in 1996, the charity has also encouraged and supported those with prostate cancer and carried out research.
To progress its research work, the charity is setting up a dedicated prostate cancer research fund. The charity launched a campaign targeted at prospective high-value donors in the hope of raising enough money by the end of this financial year to pay for a new research round in 2006/07.
HOW IT WORKED
A mail pack was posted in February, inviting about 100,000 potential high-value male donors to become founding members of the Research Action Fund. The pack included a donation form, a letter from John Neate, chief executive of the charity, and a pamphlet asking "Will you give £1,000 to help stop the needless deaths of thousands of men?"
Inside the pamphlet, the headline read "In the next hour another man will die of prostate cancer".
The pack was tailored to appeal to the high-value male audience. It included statistics and asked why more was not known about the disease, which kills 190 British men each week. The pack appealed for funding for scientific research by saying "Investing in the fund is an investment in your future".
It included an advice box to increase awareness of prostate cancer, a case study about Tom Beels, who was diagnosed with the disease two years ago, and information and pictures of the scientists involved.
Although the pack asked for £1,000, in the letter Neate asked for recipients to "help by sending whatever you can afford".
The aim was to raise £110,000 and to recruit 400 new supporters. So far, the appeal has recruited more than 500 new supporters and raised more than £140,000.
Lena Moore, direct marketing manager at the charity, said: "This particular campaign has exceeded all our expectations.
"We are hugely grateful to all those donors who have agreed to support us so we can improve the lives of the 30,000 men in the UK diagnosed with prostate cancer every year."
EXPERT VIEW - PATRICK NORRIE, HEAD OF COPYWRITING, WWAV RAPP COLLINS, LONDON
I still see too many communications that display a distinct lack of candour when it comes to asking for donations.
Pleasingly, this mailing from the Prostate Cancer Charity doesn't fall into that trap. It can't afford to, because it is asking recipients for a significant sum of money. The letter is refreshingly honest from the opening paragraph, which asks the reader to give £1,000 to become a founding member of the charity's Research Action Fund.
At times the tone shifts from businesslike to personable, but never to this reader's discomfort. However, it could benefit from engaging on a more emotional level by talking more about the lives of the people it aims to support and less about the organisation itself.
The brochure offers numerous engagement points, including a testimonial and more detail of the work that donations will help support. Most importantly, the opening to the brochure displays passion and drive.
Overall, this mailing offers ample scope for improvement (show me one that doesn't), but I'm pleased it exceeded its initial targets, recruiting 500 members over a target of 400 and raising more than £140,000 rather than the budgeted £110,000.