WORKSHOP: Case Study - Help the Aged wins desktop donors

Francois Le Goff

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Background: Help the Aged benefits from more than £300,000 a year through payroll giving, a fundraising scheme that takes regular tax efficient payments from employees' salaries for their favourite charity.

Because it is a large organisation with more than 1,600 employees and seven main offices throughout the UK, Help the Aged has also developed its own payroll-giving scheme to enable its staff make donations to the charity of their choice. This scheme is managed in collaboration with Sharing the Caring, a professional fundraising organisation owned by Help the Aged. Sharing the Caring also promotes payroll giving on behalf of 100 other UK charities. Any profits made by the commercial organisation are used to support Help the Aged's activities.

Last year, the charity realised that the number of its employees giving through their pay had dropped significantly and that many new staff were unaware that such a scheme existed. Seminars organised by Sharing the Caring to introduce the scheme to Help the Aged's staff had failed to make a great impact.

Aims: Help the Aged decided to launch a payroll-giving awareness campaign of its own in April 2003. As a charity that benefits greatly from payroll donations from other organisations' employees, Help the Aged wanted to encourage its own staff to lead by example.

The campaign encouraged employees to give little and often rather than donating occasional lump sums. Help the Aged stressed that employees could start by giving as little as £1 a month and that they were free to donate to their charity of choice.

It also aimed to inform staff that now is a good time to give through their pay as the Government will top up every payroll -giving donation by an extra 10 per cent until April 2004.

How It Worked: The campaign, devised by design agency Navig8, had an unusual and quirky style that moved away from the more typical voluntary sector imagery.

In March, posters went up on the walls of the charity's head office and postcards landed on people's desks. These first messages were intriguing and a little cheeky, based on 1950s illustrations and advertising.

The postcards were designed as a 'teaser' campaign to spark people's curiosity without going into full details about the promotion. The graphics showed images such as a female nurse with a halo asking 'want to lend a helping hand?' or a strong man smiling and asking 'want to feel good about yourself?' Employees also received an enclosure in their payslip giving further details about payroll giving and a registration form.

The promotion of the campaign kicked off in April and lasted two days.

Before everyone got into work on the first day, Help the Aged's payroll giving team went round the whole office and put a postcard and sweets on every desk. The postcard was similar to the one that was distributed in March, but contained more detail about the scheme.

Finally, Sharing the Caring's staff approached each employee at their desk to ask them if they would like to give to a charity.

Results: Help the Aged's employees reacted very positively to the quirky style of the posters and postcards. "The internal promotion was a great success. The number of payroll givers at Help the Aged rose fivefold," said Georgina Ralston, special projects co-ordinator at Help the Aged. Employees now donate more than £7,000 to charity each year.

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