Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Unicef mail campaign beats its target

Helen Barrett


Unicef's first direct mail pack to promote its Unite for Children, Unite against Aids campaign raised £182,599, beating its target by more than £18,000, and achieved a 7.78 per cent response rate.


Every day, 2,000 children become infected with the HIV virus, mostly through mother-to-child transmission. Unicef launched the global Unite for Children campaign in 2005 with three aims: to reduce the spread of the virus among children and young people; to keep children and their parents alive for longer; and to protect and care for children made vulnerable by Aids. The charity hopes that by 2010, 80 per cent of pregnant women will have access to services and treatments that stop the transmission of the HIV virus to their children. Unicef aimed to raise £163,859 in cash and direct debit donations to support its work in Africa preventing the transmission of the HIV virus from mother to child.


WWAV Rapp Collins designed a direct mail pack, comprising a leaflet and personalised letter. The leaflet focused on Kevina, a Kenyan child born to Rose, an HIV-positive woman. Kevina did not contract the virus, thanks to a drug costing 16p per dose, prescribed to Rose during her pregnancy by a Unicef clinic. The leaflet also explained the charity's aims for the campaign.

The letter, from Heimo Laakonen, a fieldworker for Unicef, gave an eyewitness account of Rose's story and explained how anti-retroviral drugs can suppress the HIV virus in pregnant women so it is not passed to their unborn children.

The letter pointed out that the drug costs just 16p and reminded recipients that a child dies of an Aids-related illness every minute of every day.

The charity targeted 122,000 warm cash supporters, who were asked to give at varying amounts from £6 to £84, depending on the average amount of previous gifts.


The mail pack raised £182,599, achieving a 7.78 per cent response rate.

Libby Hartz, head of direct marketing at Unicef, said: "With our campaign aiming to increase the services for prevention of mother-to-child transmission, this is something tangible people can do to respond to the pandemic.

As the results show, the subject appealed to our donors."

EXPERT VIEW - Mark McArthur-Christie, partner, Freeman Christie

An ex-colleague of mine used to claim that WWAV stood for 'weak words and visuals'. I always thought this unreasonable - it produces some excellent work. But I think with this pack he'd have a point. Here's a fantastic story: 16p can buy back a child's life. You could save the lives of 12 children for the price of that latte you're sipping. It's a story that needs to be told in words and images so powerful that they won't leave the mind of the reader. But this was a pack in which the copy could have done a lot more to persuade.

Thank goodness the covering letter had a bit more spine to it than the leaflet - otherwise the pack would have struggled to bring in £182,599.

There's an emotive story to be told about Kevina and her mum, but instead of helping the letter tell it, the leaflet wanders off with a few dull-but-worthy statistics. It might have been more powerful to swap the leaflet for a couple of pictures of Kevina and her family with handwritten copy on the back. This is a personal story, after all.

Simplest would have been best for this pack. The whole thing should have been in the first person, using Rose's own words to bring the story home.

This leaflet was a wasted opportunity. A more personal appeal would have made more money for a cause that deserves it.

Creativity: 2

Delivery: 3


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