Building in Lamalko Village

Becky Calder explains how tailored mail packs and a matched giving arrangement helped Oxfam New Zealand’s 2013 May Appeal smash records.

Becky Calder explains how tailored mail packs and a matched giving arrangement helped Oxfam New Zealand’s 2013 May Appeal smash records.

Building in Lamalko Village

Oxfam New Zealand’s May Appeal is an important earner in
our direct mail calendar so it is vital that it gets results. Our objective for 2013 was to raise an $80,000 profit against $50,000 from the previous year. To do this we needed to generate a response rate of 9% – which was a 66% lift year-on-year – and a 29% higher average gift of $90.

Segmentation strategy

We analysed our database to mail only the donors who were most likely to respond based on their scores for recency, frequency and value. This meant we could reduce our volumes by 25% and more effectively utilise our budget. To maximise response, everyone except regular givers received an electronic direct mail piece before the appeal was sent and a follow-up ask several weeks afterwards.

High value donors were identified and categorised into those who had made gifts of $1,000-plus and the top 20 givers based on giving history. Going by the theory that 80% of income will come from 20% of donors, they were targeted with additional creative treatment and extensive copy personalisation including an ask upgrade strategy.

Personalised content focused on impact

The content strategy was to portray the major impact donations could make in real people’s lives by highlighting one specific project that funding could contribute to. The focus we chose was re-building three training centres in Vanuatu in the South Pacific which would transform whole communities by educating young people and freeing them from poverty and disadvantage.

As we had sought a 4:1 matching grant from the New Zealand government for the project, a key message was that for every $1 given, the government would give another $4. That meant donations would effectively go five times further.

We ensured that all pack elements, emails and the web destination promoted in the appeal were linked visually and tonally, and brought to life the difference donors could make. Each piece was to be a one-to-one communication explaining the story of beneficiaries, their needs, the solution the donor could be a part of and the real people who make it happen.

A longer four-page format for the letter with more investment in visual and impact pieces was selected. Click here to view the letter. An income target and a response deadline were used to generate urgency. Donors were asked to increase on their own previous gifts while the response form also showed how different dollar amounts would be multiplied substantially by the 4:1 matching grant.

A combination of imagery and words were used to appeal to different information consumption styles, with emotional pull leading all pieces, backed by rational information justifying giving amounts and explaining how donating would meet a need.

The pack inserts were designed to convey authenticity – be it the authenticity of Oxfam New Zealand as the experts in the area, or a personal and direct explanation of why the donor’s help is so badly needed from the project worker. Pre-existing proposal material was used with annotations in handwriting to help make key points.

High value donors also received ‘internal’ documents in the form of a DVD and Outcomes Appendix as well as handwritten notes and C5 outer envelopes that would stand out in their letterboxes.

A separate large format response form was used to respect the needs of our 65+ audience and make giving easier.

$195,895 profit raised in an organisation best

The May Appeal raised $236,200, delivering $195,895 net income. This exceeded our target by 145%. Our ask strategy and use of the gift multiplier tactic saw our average gift increase to a fantastic $113. This was even higher than our average received in response to emergencies.

The response rate was 14.9% – 5.9% higher than our objective – and 21% of our high value donors responded. Overall, a third more donors than ever before were motivated to respond.

To view the letter, click here.

All figures referred to in this article are in New Zealand dollars.

Becky Calder

Becky Calder is marketing and fundraising manager at Oxfam New Zealand. Prior to that she spent eight years in the United Kingdom charity sector managing both direct marketing and digital fundraising teams.