CDE project 11a sum­ma­ry: mass media

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
April 30, 2017

Campaigns that strengthen relationships with donors

James Allport, Craig Linton, Dan Beacon, April 2017

Project Introduction

The Commission for the Donor Experience set out to consider how mass media fundraising can engage donors to give them a great experience. The focus of the commission is to ensure fundraising flourishes long term and is focused on long term results. We are also considering how we can work better as a sector to deliver best practice guidance to the charity sector can adopt the principles laid out to deliver effective donor recruitment and a satisfied donor.

To do this we have drawn on a range experiences of practicing and putting in place best practice mass media fundraising campaigns from industry professionals. We have also spoken to donors and reflected their views where appropriate.

We need to consider that mass market media does not lend itself to a one size fits all best practice guide. The brand position, budget, fundraising product and area of work will greatly determine the approach you take.

Summary guidance

The summary breaks down the area of mass market fundraising down into six elements which are listed below with some key bullet points. There then follows more detail in the report. These steps should be followed with the four below principles in mind to guide the overall project.

  • Honesty of presentation of the problem
  • Honesty of the ask
  • Respect for the beneficiaries
  • Fulfil a supporter promise

Six steps for delivering mass market appeals with a good supporter experience


  • Researching both internally and externally into your charity and the work you do.
  • Audience research, what are the groups you are trying to reach motivated by.
  • Is your cause right for mass market or would below the line for other fundraising methods work better?

Proposition, Products and Promise

  • Establish and test a fundraising proposition
  • Create a donor promise that shows the work the donation is doing. For example, adopt a tiger for £3 per month and we’ll send you updates on our conservation efforts. Please note, donor promise is used here in a different way to a donor charter i.e. we promise not to share your details with third parties.  Proposition identification and product creation

Materials and Media

  • An advert that grabs the attention and is compelling
  • Creative checklist
    • Eye contact
    • Tell a story
    • Show need and solution
    • Set up the donor promise
    • Disrupting the audience
  • Media
    • Target the right audience in the test
    • Refine and repeat to deliver value

Planning the Donor Journey

  • Plan of communications to the donor
  • Starts with the first contact
  • Thank people regularly
  • Focus on retention more than upgrades

See CDE project 5 – The supporter’s journey

Use of emotion and imagery

  • Avoid being exploitative but show reality
  • Carefully consider the tone of voice and visual approach for your appeal and the balance of positivity and negativity.

See CDE project 6 – The use and misuse of emotion

Measuring Donor Experience

  • Value the retention of supporters
  • Focus on donor satisfaction, measuring positive responses, lack of complaints, engagement with the charity.

See CDE project 3 – Satisfaction and commitment

Click on the image below to see Project 11a summary only - PDF format

Click on the image below to see Project 11a in full - PDF format

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

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