The appeal launched by transport charity Transaid aimed to raise money for reconstruction following the Asian tsunami. It raised £13,864 from six of the charity's 20 corporate members.
Transaid helps NGOs and government ministries in developing countries to manage their transport and logistics functions, making the delivery of services such as healthcare cheaper and more efficient.
The charity raises donations through events such as dinner parties for the UK transport industry and through its 20 members, which include Michelin, Pall-Ex, ATS and Wincanton.
It launched an appeal to support its Sri Lankan partner, the Sarvodaya Shramadna Movement, when the reconstruction following the Asian tsunami began. "We are not an emergency relief organisation," said Transaid chief executive Chris Saunders in January. "But we could help if it is in response to a direct request from an operational agency to source technical expertise from the transport and logistics industry."
Transaid started working with the Sarvodaya Shramadna Movement in May last year, assessing its transport usage and providing training. As one of the largest NGOs in the country, it helps thousands of people in displacement camps and rebuilds housing, sanitation systems and water supplies.
How it worked
Transaid emailed its members, asking them to make a donation to support its Sri Lankan partner. The appeal comprised a donation form with a quote from a Sarvodaya Shramadna worker saying that transport would be a vital component of the rehabilitation phase. At the centre was a dummy advertisement for Motor Transport magazine with vacant spaces for the logos of companies contributing to the campaign.
A note at the bottom said that funds raised by Transaid would be held in reserve for the later phase of the relief effort in Sri Lanka.
"Members had recently responded to our Christmas appeal and bought tables for our Royal Gala Dinner in December, so there was a danger of asking too much from them," said Caroline Beaumont, head of marketing at Transaid.
The total raised was £13,864, against a £15,000 target. Six members responded, a 30 per cent rate. The average gift was about £2,500. "This was a small appeal," said Beaumont. "If we had produced a large direct-mail appeal and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds, we wouldn't have had the resources to spend the money. We can manage this amount."
Motor Transport magazine published the advert with the contributing companies' logos on 24 March.
EXPERT VIEW - Marc Middleton-Heath, director, Catalyst
This simple email for Transaid has many of the elements required for a perfect appeal, but it could have been executed a little better. Audience, timing and creativity are the key ingredients.
As for audience, it couldn't be stronger with Transaid's 20 members.
Timing is key, and the decision to go with the email approach is a good one. Although email saves time and money, it can be impersonal, particularly when you consider that we are talking to only 20 members. A phone call can combine speed and urgency, and resolve issues or barriers members may have to donating. It also can express appreciation.
To a degree, creative is not that important. The tsunami was receiving wall-to-wall coverage at the time and the need was clear. What people were looking for was a practical and tangible way to help, and again the approach scored highly.
Transaid has a partner on the ground and it opted for a pragmatic and honest approach to how the money would be spent - some in the short term and some in the long term. The chance to advertise your support through the trade press was also a nice touch.
Overall, then, a well-constructed approach that could have met its target if Transaid had opted for the phone, or used the phone in conjunction with the email. A little more information on the difference your donation could make might have helped too.