Alzheimer’s Australia (VIC) integrated media support and an innovative creative approach to make a success of their “Rusting Tin Roof” acquisition campaign. Holly Thurman CFRE was the brains behind the appeal.

Alzheimer’s Australia (VIC) integrated media support and an innovative creative approach to make a success of their “Rusting Tin Roof” acquisition campaign. Holly Thurman CFRE was the brains behind the appeal.

The Tsunami appeals of early 2005 forced Alzheimer’s Australia (VIC) to review its practice of conducting four direct mail appeals a year, and its usual March campaign was ditched.

This meant that a highly visible tax-time appeal was necessary to re-connect with existing donors and alert potential new supporters to the needs of the organisation.

Some new strategies were required to maximise the impact of the 2005 tax appeal, and a new creative approach developed by Global Village Connections was combined with a media campaign to heighten awareness with excellent synergy.

Creativity with clout

A central theme to integrate the mail pack and the media campaign was developed, and the imagery of comparing a rusting tin roof to the degenerating brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease was an analogy that really resonated with people.

The outer envelopes of Alzheimer’s appeals are usually bare of creative elements, but for this campaign a boldly stated question on the front was used to tempt people to open the mail piece – “Which brain disorder turns your mind into a rusting tin roof?”

A new design format also provided greater interactivity with the reader and highlighted important facts. Holes in the picture of a rusting tin roof corresponded with powerful examples of “holes” in people’s memory such as “where my daugher lives” or “what is a fork?” (To see an example of the mailpack artwork go to

The letter text took advantage of new research that illustrated the significant impact that dementia was having – 1,000 new cases were being diagnosed a week in Australia, and the total number of Australians suffering from dementia had passed 200,000.

Media integration

The media campaign supporting the appeal lasted for three months following the mailout. The same imagery and taglines used in the mail packs also featured in filler print ads which ran in The Age, Herald Sun, Weekly Times, MX and all Geelong press.

A community service announcement (CSA) for radio was also produced, which featured the harsh sounds of a rusty tin roof collapsing. The CSA received excellent air time on Melbourne metro and Geelong radio stations.

All media placement was done free-of-charge, and many of the media outlets commented that they were happy to run the ads because they appreciated the ceativityand could personally relate to them.


The appeal was mailed to Alzheimer’s current donorbase of 6,215 households, and on the acquisition side, 7,397 new households were targeted.

The prospective donors were generated from two rented lists: people who own their own home and give to charities; and females aged 55+ who have lived at the same address for more than 11 years.


The gross funds raised, $74,507, exceeded the target by 143%, and the 116 new donors gave a total of $5,448, which exceeded the budgeted amount by 322%. On average, donors from acquisition give to Alzheimer’s for about seven years.

Approximately $3,000 was invested for the acquisition part of the Rusting Tin Roof campaign. Alzheimer’s has an acquisition budget of $6,000 per year spread across two appeals.

The National Dementia Helpline also experienced a considerable increase in calls over a sustained period during the campaign.

The Rusting Tin Roof Campaign received a “Highly Commended” acknowledgement in the FIA Awards (Victorian Chapter) Budget Acquisition category for 2005.

Holly Thurman CFRE is the general manager development & community relations at Alzheimer’s Australia (VIC)

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Acquisition Summary

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