Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Tree campaign bears fruit for charity

Georgina Lock

Seeds for Africa is a small charity that helps African families by providing indigenous vegetable seeds, agricultural development and technical advice. The charity extended its projects to help preserve the environment while alleviating poverty through its One Tree campaign.

Background

The One Tree campaign raises money to plant fruit trees in schools and communities across Africa. The trees replenish dwindling forests across the continent and give young people training in gardening skills, resulting in increased independence, nutritious diets and secure sources of food for the future.

How it worked

The campaign, which was launched to coincide with the Christian harvest festival in September, asked people to donate £5 to plant a fruit tree in a school in Africa, thus protecting the environment and encouraging food security.

An A4-sized fold-up colour leaflet was produced by the charity with help from Nebula Strata, a Kent-based design company. Each one cost 3p to produce.

Initially the leaflet was sent with a letter to 12,882 churches, 6,768 secondary schools and 964 Islamic groups explaining the fundraising initiative and asking for support for One Tree. It was also sent to more than 300 garden centres along with a request for a point-of- sale display.

The leaflet included a quote from gardening broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh, patron of the charity, who said: "Every fruit tree planted is another step forward in the battle to alleviate poverty and preserve our natural environment."

Various statistics were also included, along with information on how people can help and examples of trees planted.

The charity also promoted the appeal at events such as the National Fruit Show in Kent in October and the Anglo-African Business exhibition in London.

Results

Because Seeds for Africa is a small charity, the One Tree campaign was run on an ad hoc basis. The initial print run of 20,000 leaflets ran out in a couple of months, so the charity printed another 50,000.

So far, the campaign has raised almost £25,000 for the charity.

Rosemary Waller, fundraising officer for One Tree, said: "To date we are very pleased with the campaign. It has proved very popular with different age groups and we have found its simplicity is its key selling point."

EXPERT VIEW

OLIVER LEWIS-BARCLAY, founding partner, Hooper Galton advertising agency

Seeds for Africa has a very tangible goal, which is a great asset for a charity dealing in the complex, multi-layered African world. Its proposition also resonates with the growing appeal of causes dealing in real, practical help. By providing a catalyst, charities like this aim to create a positive cycle of development, helping communities towards self-sufficiency. The fact that the appeal also has an environmental angle can only add to this small charity's appeal to potential donors. The One Tree campaign extends the charity's simple proposition, but is focused more on the environmental benefit of its work.

The targeting of schools and religious groups is a sensible way of adding weight to the message. The materials themselves, however, lack single-mindedness. These charities offer people direct physical help, so it is no surprise that case studies feature prominently. But the lengthy, environment-focused copy offers plenty of information without a strong, emotive path to response.

The results are impressive, especially given the size of the campaign, but with such a rich story to tell on the ground, perhaps the environmental angle might not have been the strongest path to responsive creative work.

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