FUNDRAISING NEWS: WWF-UK set to revamp direct marketing plans

PATRICK MCCURRY

Environmental charity WWF-UK is overhauling its direct marketing strategy to build a more detailed picture of its donors' motivations and establish closer relationships with supporters.

The move is part of a wider trend in the voluntary sector away from mass mailings and towards greater analysis of databases.

WWF's strategy reflects the fact that it has become harder to generate good returns on investment in traditional direct marketing campaigns, said head of fundraising Nicky Bishop.

"Many charities are now looking at testing new ways of engaging with supporters through direct marketing,

said Bishop.

Tony Elischer, managing director of Think Consulting Solutions, said: "Charities aren't necessarily reducing direct marketing spend, but they're getting smarter and moving towards more segmentation of their databases and greater analysis of behaviour patterns."

One of WWF's main investments is in a new IT system, which will enable the charity to link information from its various supporter databases.

The charity is also planning web-based advertising aimed at females under 45, its target supporter profile. Ideas include advertorial on female-oriented web sites and banner ads on lifestyle sites.

Bishop said WWF's supporter profile was significantly younger than the average charity due to the attraction of environmental causes for younger people.

WWF raises £26 million a year in voluntary income, of which half comes from direct marketing. The coming year will see emphasis on building relationships with high-value donors on the charity's database who give at least £250 a year.

"The new IT system will give us more detail on what our supporters are interested in and what their emotional commitment is to the charity,

said Bishop.

Donors will be asked how often they wish to be contacted by the charity and whether they are interested in taking a more active role in campaigning.

Postal and email questionnaires will be among the tools used to gather information.

"The strategy is aimed at upgrading the financial contribution of donors but finding out what it is that engages them,

said Bishop.

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