Centrepoint ‘sponsor a room’: donor acquisition

Exhibited by
Reuben Turner, creative director, The Good Agency.
Added
July 17, 2010
Medium of Communication
Press advertising
Target Audience
Individuals, regular gift
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family, public / society benefit
Country of Origin
UK
Date of first appearance
Unknown

SOFII’s view

This exhibit is proof that traditional direct response fundraising can still work in the current climate. It demonstrates simple yet effective press advertising (plus a bit of TV and direct mail too) combined with a clever use of digital technology. Donors were able to see clearly how their money was being spent and what difference it would make. The result: new monthly givers and a low donor attrition rate.

Creator / originator

The Good Agency, London.

Summary / objectives

To recruit new direct debit donors for Centrepoint. To retain these donors and, therefore, keep attrition to a minimum.

Background

Like many homeless charities, fundraising at Centrepoint was focused on the Christmas period and they struggled to raise funds at other times.

They introduced room sponsorship to try and recruit donors throughout the year to provide a regular income. Although successful initially, results started to tail off so Centrepoint asked the Good Agency to give the campaign some fresh impetus.

The Good Agency revamped the product, created new press ads and implemented an online, digital solution to welcome donors and show them the impact of their giving.

The press ads

The Good Agency took a two-stage approach to the press ads.

Early in the paper a small picture of a young homeless girl appears with the question: ‘I’m homeless. Will you help me?’

Later in the paper a full page ‘advertorial’ style piece appears and starts by asking if you saw the first small advert earlier in the paper.

The advert then goes on to tell Sophie’s story and how you can help her (and other young homeless people like her) by sponsoring a room at Centrepoint.

It tells a good story, is followed by a clear call to action and outlines what you will receive in return for giving.

The welcome strategy

Once a donor has sponsored a room it is important to Centrepoint that there is a strong welcome and thank you. Some traditional sponsorship products (like child sponsorship) can be expensive to operate, so the Good Agency looked at an online/digital solution to try and reduce the costs of some of the more expensive elements.

They developed a new experience for room sponsors. Donors got a traditional welcome pack saying thank you and outlining why their sponsorship was important, but they also got a log-in and url so they could go online and have a virtual tour of the room they had sponsored.

This has helped keep attrition levels in single figures.

Click on the image below to view the TV ad.

centrepoint ad

Influence / impact

The campaign won gold at the 2009 DMA awards.

Details

Everything was tested against the ‘banker’ and these ads outperformed this.

Results

This integrated campaign broke even after one year. It also created a new donor base with a single digit attrition rate.

Merits

There are number of reasons why this deserves a place in SOFII.

The initial advert is powerful. The Good Agency discovered that many people feel vaguely guilty about homeless young people, but aren’t very sure what they can do about it. Aligned with this is the fact that they have a suspicion that giving money directly to homeless people is wrong and that the homeless are a bit feckless and are on the street by choice.

The ad challenges all of these views, wakes people up and then offers a simple, clear solution – give £12 a month to sponsor a room.

Once people are hooked and have bought the proposition, it is followed up by an engaging, educational and interesting welcome pack that shows them clearly where their money is going and the difference it will make. It also combines traditional mail-based techniques with low-cost, effective digital marketing that gives donors a great welcome to the product and makes them feel good about giving.

It shows that in a difficult fundraising climate you can still make traditional direct response work if you have a strong enough offer. Acquisition is becoming increasingly tough, yet this still managed to exceed breakeven in year one.

According to the Good Agency, it is also a good example of a client and agency working well together. Centrepoint don’t micromanage and trust the Good Agency to get the job done. They don’t try and change small bits, but instead base much of their feedback on testing and results.