The fundraising environment is always a tough one, especially when money is being gained for a concept rather than for a physical product or service. Forest & Bird is seen as a responsible charitable organisation, conscious of positioning their brand with conservation- minded New Zealanders who span several generations (35 – 85 primarily).
Speaking up for the planned changes to the RMA was extremely un-sexy as it wasn’t related to cute, endangered birds. It was about proposed legislation changes. The principal point that needed to be made was that these changes affect every New Zealander, and that we all need to care about what is happening.
To show in real terms how this would affect people personally, a case study was tailored for both urban and rural settings. Both case studies focused on the threat to trees and the communities’ rights to have a say about trees in their street/district. Since people become quite attached to the trees in their street or district, emotion was brought in at this point: it might be one they grew up playing under, or their children did and to take away any right to have a say about what happens to them is quite an evocative thought.
The story was followed up by an article in the Forest & Bird magazine which used the same imagery and angle. It was also prominent on the website encouraging people to donate.
Forest & Bird typically mails to 14,000 supporters with a peak of 24,000. One of the risks taken in this campaign was mailing to only 5,468 people, based on research conducted by a consultancy group to refine the target market. Each person had given previously and was well versed with Forest & Bird work, but had typically given to birds at risk.
Several risks were taken in this appeal, including changing the entire way it was written, designed and the type of topic. All of the risks paid off and it raised over double the average of the previous four appeals.
Having followed best practise direct mail appeal letter writing, it proves that anything is possible.