Fundraising: Case study - One campaign supports one woman

Summary

To coincide with World Aids Day, the Rwandan Survivors Fund kicked off One Month to Save the Life of One Woman as part of its year-long Remember Rwanda: Ten Years On campaign. The charity raised £6,000, which will provide one HIV-positive Rwandan woman with anti-retroviral treatment for seven years.

Background

It is estimated that around 25,000 women were raped and infected with HIV during the attempted genocide of 1994. It costs £75 a month to buy the drugs that would enable one woman to lead a healthy and active life.

Channel 4 News international editor Lindsey Hilsum, who covered the conflict at the time and became a patron of the charity last year, said: "Returning to Rwanda 10 years on, I find to my horror that people are still dying as a result of the genocide."

Launched in December, One Month to Save the Life of One Woman aimed to secure 1,800 donations of £5 to pay for the anti-retroviral treatment of one HIV-positive Rwandan woman for the next 10 years.

How it worked

An email was sent to 2,000 donors, asking them to make a donation and forward the request to friends and family. Donations could be made from Surf's website, via online fundraising facility GiveNow, or by post. Design agency lbdesign created an orange box on the website's homepage, which included a link to GiveNow and information about a £4.25m Department for International Development grant aiming to help 2,500 women access anti-retroviral treatment.

Many of those contacted by Surf had previously taken part in Reading of the Testimonies, an event held in July in Trafalgar Square to campaign for free anti-retroviral treatment for victims. Some of the charity's donors in the US were also emailed.

The campaign coincided with World Aids Day, whose theme last year was Women, Girls, HIV and Aids. The timing enabled director Mary Kayitesi Blewitt to talk about the launch on BBC2's The Daily Politics.

Additional documentation included a 16-page brochure entitled Remember Rwanda: Ten Years On - a broader, one-year campaign launched in April.

It was posted with a thank-you letter to 250 new donors.

Results

The campaign raised more than £6,000. The number of donations totalled 550 and included two single donations of £1,000.

Kayitesi Blewitt said: "The support that we have received for this campaign, and throughout our Ten Years On commemoration, has been incredible.

"In the light of the recent tsunami disaster, it is even more amazing that we have raised so much."

The money will enable the charity to add one more woman to the 22 it already supports.

EXPERT VIEW - Richard Molineux, Molineux Fundraising

This is a worthwhile, practical campaign, but the letter needed more rigorous drafting. On the positive side, the 'ask' email thanks supporters first, the donation has an immediate use, the need is demonstrably great, the parallel track of seeing DfID support is explained and the timescale is clear.

But there are also negatives. The proposition is unclear and the charity asks for a donation of £5 but fails to add that it needs 1,800 such donations to raise the money needed to help the woman. It should have gone that extra step further and explained that £5 multiplied by 1,800 is £9,000, which is what it costs to treat one woman for 10 years.

An alternative 'ask' might have been for £780 under Gift Aid, which would have amounted to £1,000 - enough for just over one year's treatment. Setting a £5 ceiling on the gift precluded this. Many donors might have been willing - as two were - to give much more as a one-off.

The message could usefully have given the number of women raped and infected with HIV, so that the overall 10-year need of £225m would have been more clear. This is a figure for DfID and the UN to grapple with, and for Surf to campaign for.

An attachment giving a case study of one of the 22 women being helped would have made it more immediate, as would a summary of why Mary Kayitesi Blewitt, who received a special mention in the email, had won a 'Woman of the Year' award.

Finally, the phrase "we are helping 22 women to access" is also unclear.

Are 22 women paid for in full, or in part?

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