When disaster strikes, Oxfam moves quickly to provide life-saving assistance to people in need, but also work to create lasting, positive change for the world's poorest people. Their work is focused in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. In Vanuatu the focus is on education, improving livelihoods and ensuring safe water & sanitation. However, access to basic education is not believed to be a basic right in Vanuatu, so Oxfam’s solution was the implementation of Rural Training Centres. Critical to this solution’s success is the engagement and ownership of local communities.
Oxfam’s direct mail appeals income has been variable. Large emergencies in each of the past three years had eroded giving from their donor base, diverting over $400,000 from development programmes. Emergencies are ‘sexier’ than the grassroots work that ensure long-term solutions are enacted to fight poverty at a local level. Globally, charities like Oxfam who respond to both emergencies and longer-term development work face the ongoing challenge of one often suffering for funds as a result of the other. The need to reverse the decline in response to appeals was critical.
Direct mail was chosen as the primary channel, supported by email and online activity. The key message was “Help Oxfam build three desperately needed training centres in Vanuatu, and for every dollar you give, the government will contribute $4. Your gift will help provide an education for young people who, without you, will otherwise miss out.”
In a challenging market, with a donor base eroded by their generous response to international emergencies this campaign raised enough money to fund the entire Rural Training Centres project , thus improving the lives of more than 250 young people, as well as their families and their communities.
The campaign raised $236,200, delivering $195,895 net income – exceeding the target by 96% and exceeding the previous best by 72%. Average gifts increased to a fantastic $113 (previous best was $90). Not only was the execution clean, beautiful and respectful of both the target audience’s needs and the people whose lives the programme aims to help, it delivered on its objective of fully funding the project without the need for further fundraising.