Focus: Fundraising - Case Study - Transparent campaign hits top target

Helen Barrett

Summary

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity raised £217,600 by targeting warm donors with a direct mail campaign to raise funds to buy a mobile ultrasound diagnosis scanner. It drew a parallel between the scanner's capacity to see inside patients and the see-through envelope used in the mailing.

Background

The hospital treats more than 90,000 patients each year and offers the widest range of paediatric specialities under one roof in the UK. Its patients are children who have some of the most rare, complex and often life-threatening conditions. The charity supports the hospital's activities - it has a fundraising target of £20m a year.

How it worked

In spring 2005, the charity targeted 95,000 warm donors to raise money towards the cost of the scanner.

Previous research had revealed that people who donate to the charity tend to be women over the age of 60. Thirty per cent of donors, meanwhile, have some direct affiliation with the hospital, such as having a child or grandchild who has been treated there. Research also showed that donors take a rational approach to their giving, tending to donate to charities where they can see how their money is used, and that they trust the hospital to use funds wisely. They are also known to respond to appeals when they understand the functions and roles of the equipment they are being asked to pay for, so the charity used a transparent envelope as an analogy.

The letter explained that the hospital would not have to operate on children to diagnose conditions such as tumours if they had scanning equipment that could "see inside patients". Recipients were asked for donations ranging from £5 to £50. A direct debit form was included to encourage regular giving.

Results

The campaign achieved a 10 per cent response rate and raised a total of £217,600. Each pack cost 43p to produce, which means that the average donation of £18.74 equates to a five-to-one return on investment. The campaign won the Grand Prix in the 2005 Direct Marketing Association Awards and the hospital now has the scanner.

Caroline Carter, marketing campaign manager at the charity, said: "The creativity represented the need and, more importantly, the use of the scanner, and it exceeded our expectations. Its simplicity meant we got the message across and stayed within budget."

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