Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Womankind mailing 'touches people'

Georgina Lock

Womankind works across the world to change women's lives, enabling them to gain skills, knowledge and opportunities so they can control their own lives and move out of poverty. In 2004, the charity commissioned Burnett Works to carry out a communications review that would help it improve its publicity.


Burnett Works also worked on the direct mail campaign that followed the review. Working with a tight budget, the aim was to raise about £4,000 from a cold mailing.

The creative strategy reflected a move away from more academic campaigns towards an attempt to foster empathy among recipients by showing how change can be achieved one woman at a time.

How it worked

The simple two-colour mail pack was sent to 26,905 people. It included a personalised letter from Maggie Baxter, executive director of Womankind Worldwide, and an attached response form accompanied by a leaflet, postcard and reply envelope.

The focus of the mailing was Aberash, a 13-year-old girl from Ethiopia who endured circumcision at the age of three and an arranged marriage to a man who subjected her to sexual violence. The mailing asked people in the UK to stand by courageous women such as Aberash and help those silenced by tradition, culture and intimidation to find their voices.

The mailer asked people for a cash gift, with prompts of £15, £30, £45 and £60. Cash donors will later be asked to convert into regular givers.

The postcard enabled recipients to send their messages of support, and the charity has so far received more than 500. These will be sent to women in Ethiopia so they can see support from the UK.


The campaign far exceeded expectations, with the response rate to the cold recruitment mailings surpassing its target by 300 per cent. A small number of the recipients had given a previous gift, but a long time ago.

Income from the campaign now stands at £17,078 from 648 responses, or 2.41 per cent, with an average gift of £26.35.

Sian Newton, head of fundraising and communications at Womankind Worldwide, said: "Not only did this mailing far exceed our hopes in terms of financial targets, but the responses we received also demonstrated that we really touched people and got them thinking about the issues that women have in common all over the world."


The scale of oppression suffered by women around the world, usually at the hands of men, can come as a shock. As a charity dedicated to alleviating this suffering and empowering women in peril to change their lives, Womankind has a broad remit. Perhaps sensibly, it has chosen to focus on a single case and a single country with this mailing, which tells the story of Aberash, a 13-year-old Ethiopian girl who underwent terrible ordeals at the hands of her husband, family and community.

The mailing itself is a simple, unsophisticated affair. There is a letter, a leaflet and a postcard, the latter reserved for the recipients to write a message of support for women such as Aberash. The leaflet has the look of desktop publishing about it - there are simple clip art-style icons and pixellated photography.

Charity mailers aren't supposed to look expensive, so this home-made look isn't necessarily a bad thing. The case study is well written and moving, and the charity's role in Aberash's story is clearly recounted.

A little attention to design would have united the mailer's rather disparate elements and helped cement a bond with the Womankind brand. But the audience's enthusiastic response is both heartwarming and impressive.

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