Toybox: Not just an Easter appeal

Exhibited by
Rogue Creative / Toybox
Added
September 24, 2020
Medium of Communication
Letter, online
Target Audience
All donors
Type of Charity
Children
Country of Origin
UK
Date of first appearance
2020

SOFII’s view

This is a classic example of a direct mail campaign done right. Toybox are a small charity dedicated to helping children living on the streets of Guatemala, El Salvador, India, Bolivia, Nepal, Kenya and Sierra Leone. Previous appeals had been hit and miss but they struck gold with this Easter appeal. 

The pack itself is beautifully-designed, the request is clear and it gives donors a better understanding of what their donations will achieve. It also proved remarkably successful as an online appeal which meant that, alongside the letter, results were phenomenal. We think Toybox showed real bravery in launching this appeal during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Background

Toybox are a small charity devoted to helping street children in Latin America and beyond. Lynne Morris, CEO, elaborated in an interview with SOFII’s Joe Burnett earlier this year: ‘We started about 25 years ago. The apocryphal tale is that a British couple were watching a BBC documentary about street children in Guatemala City and in the documentary the police were shown to have a policy that the best way to move street children off the streets was to shoot them. The couple got on a plane to Guatemala and, while they didn’t see the police brutality, they did see the terrible plight of street children. So Toybox was birthed from there.

‘The name comes from the idea that each child should have a childhood and the visual image of that is a toy box, with toys and games spilling out. The name helps us stand out from the crowd once you get to know us. We started in Guatemala City but we’ve extended our reach to El Salvador, Bolivia, Nepal, India, Kenya and Sierra Leone, and the work is with children working or living on the streets.’

Creator / originator

Toybox and Rogue Creative (Robbie Rae and Simon Lane).

Summary / objectives

Toybox approached Rogue Creative early in 2020 to create their annual Easter appeal. The charity had already enjoyed great success asking donors for birth certificates, based on a Christmas appeal we created for them five years ago (ed: which will be featured on SOFII soon), but now they were looking for a fundraising ask that could serve as an alternative to this valuable income stream.

Previous appeals had proven hit and miss, we were told, and we didn’t want to put all our eggs in one basket.

Special characteristics

Instead, we offered donors a mini-catalogue of gifts that they could buy for street children. This approach gave the donor the choice of gifts to donate. They could choose from six items that Toybox-supported outreach workers distribute to help meet the children’s immediate needs. The plan was that donors, once engaged, would buy more than one gift (perhaps all of them) to help increase the average gift – something vital for a charity with a relatively small donor base.

However, there is little value in helping a child survive today if they are still on the streets tomorrow. We found that the true value in distributing these items is that they enable outreach workers to build trust with the children. That means that, over time, they can work with them to leave the streets for good (and this is the core of Toybox’s work).

So the idea was that this was ‘not just’ a gift catalogue. And each gift included was ‘not just’ a way to meet the children’s short-term needs. Every gift also had the power to help a child escape the streets for good.

The appeal ran across direct mail, online and social media. We hope it will be product that will continue, with catalogues available to distribute at events and suchlike.

CEO Lynne Morris said: ‘We had a few conversations about whether we should send out the mailing during a pandemic. Was it the right time? I knew other organisations didn’t and as there were fewer envelopes falling through people’s doors, we decided to go for it.’

Results

The initial target was to raise £50,000 but this was subsequently lowered to £25,000 once the coronavirus lockdown kicked in. The pack beat this target by more than 300 per cent – raising £110,000 in total with a much higher average gift than projected, because many donors elected to buy all the itemised gifts for children.

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Speaking to Joe Burnett, Toybox CEO Lynne Morris maintained that a good old-fashioned letter remains the best means of communication for the organisation.
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Toybox have worked with Robbie Rae, both as a consultant and in his role at Rogue, for several years now.
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The campaign allowed donors to select specific gifts they wanted to donate to children living on the street.
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The campaign went out during the coronavirus pandemic but nonetheless exceeded all expectations.
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The letter was accompanied by a catalogue showing donors what their money would provide to beneficiaries.
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Examples of gifts included blankets, hygiene kits, food boxes and first aid kits.
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Toybox created a website where donors could purchase items.