The Royal Flying Doctor Service, Victoria: direct mail to buy a jet

Exhibited by
Kathy John.
Added
May 13, 2013
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Individuals
Type of Charity
Healthcare
Country of Origin
Australia
Date of first appearance
May, 2009

SOFII’s view

In an emergency there is only one way to fly – by jet! If you can afford one, which thanks to their tremendous donors the 'flying doctors' of Australia now can.

This attention-grabbing direct mail pack certainly rose to the challenge and the amount of money raised far exceeded expectations, particularly from major donors. And 750 generous people who responded to the letters gave again when they received the newsletter – even though they hadn't been asked again.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service, Victoria/Robejohn.

Name of exhibitor

Kathy John.

To raise AUD 690,000 to buy a jet aircraft that would reduce the flying time for patients by half and possibly be the most significant advance in the RFDS since it was established in 1928. The jet heralds a new era in how we provide an airborne emergency service and provides a huge leap forward in our ability to help Australians who find themselves the most distant from the specialised hospital care they require.

Background

When the Royal Flying Doctor Service is called upon to evacuate critically ill people in regional and remote Australia time is of the essence. From the advances made in medical science over the last 15 years we know that for the best chance of survival and good long-term outcomes we must get patients from remote areas to specialist intensive care facilities in major city hospitals in the fastest time possible.

An average trip normally takes six hours and 20 minutes. We needed to improve. To do this the RFDS needed a jet. A jet aircraft reduces the flying time for patients by half.

The annual appeal in May 2009 was the major fundraising appeal for the Victoria section. We had a clear goal and we knew our donors were very loyal. It was important to create a concept that would make this appeal stand out. Traditionally we send a mailing in May followed by a newsletter in June. For this year we moved the newsletter to July and introduced a reminder mailing in June to give donors more opportunities to give to this unique project.

And give they did. We were able to raise over $1,000,000 in one campaign to support the jet project, instead of funding it over the year and were still able to fund other projects at the levels of previous years.

We were asking for something that was very new and very different. Never before had donors been asked to fund a jet and play such a pivotal role in saving lives. We had agreed to fund $1,000,000 for this year and $3,000,000 over three years. It was very exciting and a fundraising challenge.

The creative development challenge was to grab attention, create excitement and provide proven direct response triggers to raise the money.

The initial campaign introduced donors to the jet and explained the medical reasoning behind the need as well as an actual story. Major donors were also provided with a copy of the funding proposal from our Western Operations, who would be using the jet.

Wave two followed up with a simple reminder letter. Wave three was the regular donor newsletter. Donors who had given to the appeal were not asked again with the newsletter yet 750 responded again by cutting the coupon out of their colour newsletter.

The appeal package

We created a direct mail pack to stand out in a very competitive market.

The red envelope with two windows instantly grabs the donor's attention as the jet shows clearly through the rear window. It was new and exciting for donors and it reinforced the key proposition that time is critical in an emergency.

The letter, which was sent from the executive director, shared with the donor the excitement and future impact that a jet would have on health care in Australia.

The die-cut jet shaped brochure was designed to reinforce the proposition that a donation towards a jet will save lives.

Special characteristics

We gave donors three opportunities to give and many of them gave multiple times.

Results

Our fundraising goal from the annual tax appeal was $690,000 from 25,000 donors. The final result was $1,042,759.

Major donors, who make up 2.1 per cent of the audience, were engaged and challenged with the high level information shared with them from Western Operations (i.e. from 'the field'). The major donors contributed a massive 28 per cent of the income.

Merits

The pack stood out in a time of high fundraising activity and the amount raised far exceeded the target, particularly from major donors.

The appeal won the 'big idea, small budget' category of the Resource Alliance global awards at the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands in 2010 and Fundraising in Australia's 'budget renewal division A' category.