Fundraising: WRVS steps up drive to offset cut in state funds

The WRVS has launched a recycling campaign this week in the latest manifestation of its first donor recruitment startegy aimed at offsetting rolling cuts in government funding.

For decades, the WRVS has relied heavily on the Home Office for its income, but since the mid-90s grants have been shrinking steadily. The charity received £6.5m in 1996 and £3m in 2003, and it will get only £1m by 2007.

In 1993, it raised only £335,000 from other sources, but it now aims to raise between £5m and £7m by 2008.

Mike Haszko, corporate and events manager at WRVS, said the charity was in the midst of a number of integrated campaigns orchestrated by a fundraising department that was established only last year.

Since the beginning of this year, the team has been working with marketing agency Cascaid to formulate and deliver its fundraising strategy.

Haszko said: "The big difference in our fundraising is that we now have a very proactive approach rather than a reactive one."

The new recycling appeal, run in conjunction with recycling company Redeem, encourages the public to raise cash for the charity by sending in their old mobile phones and printer cartridges. For every handset or cartridge collected, Redeem will give £2.50 and £1 respectively to the WRVS.

For the first time in WRVS's history, direct mail is being used to convert the charity's volunteers into donors as well. In May, the first pack, which asked permission to send further information, brought in the charity's first 1,000 donors.

Following this success, the charity is working on its Christmas mail pack and an advertising campaign to raise more funds.

In late November, the pack will be sent to volunteers who responded to the previous mailing, as well as cold donors recruited in a September mailing.

The Christmas mailing is part of a wide-reaching campaign called 'Be a star this Christmas'. It will include a nationwide poster campaign throughout the charity's hospital shops and cafes, and in other outdoor sites.

The charity is also in discussions with companies in the hope of gaining further support for its fundraising activities.

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