Bush Her­itage Aus­tralia: Autumn appeal turned donor care pack 

Exhibited by
Jasmine Coronado, Marlin Communications
July 23, 2020
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Warm donors
Type of Charity
Environment and conservation
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
February 2020

SOFII’s view

This is a great example of how not actually asking for money can still yield spectacular results. Bush Heritage Australia and Marlin Communications, responding to a crisis caused by bushfires, showed that caring and reciprocal communications involving thanking and recognising donors is crucial. As such, they built a close relationship with many, and that proved to be more effective than just asking for money.

Summary / objectives

After a summer of devastating bushfires in Australia, Marlin recommended that Bush Heritage Australia shift their approach to communicating with their donors in Autumn 2020. Instead of the standard ‘fundraise as usual’ autumn appeal, Marlin created a nurturing donor care experience that reflected the close relationship Bush Heritage Australia has developed with its supporters. With no direct asks or dollar handles in the pack, the focus was solely on thanking the donor for their investment and belief in the organisation during this challenging time. The result was remarkable, with an outpouring of both gratitude and gifts from supporters. This approach demonstrates the power of thinking about fundraising in the context of a relationship.


The task was to create a positive brand experience and interaction for Bush Heritage Australia supporters. To do this Marlin put together a respectful, hopeful and insightful direct mail pack that:

●      Acknowledged and thanked donors for their recent support

●      Informed donors of the state of Bush Heritage Australia’s reserves, the same reserves they have invested in through their donations over the past months/years

●      Instilled hope and reassurance that Bush Heritage Australia’s groundwork had helped to mitigate the fire damage, all thanks to the support of their donors

●      Looked ahead to the future expected needs e.g. further investment in fire management staff and implementing fire management plans

Special characteristics

As the focus of the pack was about thanking and informing the donor we wanted to take them on a journey. It began with a hand-written outer envelope stating, ‘Seven reserves, seven stories of survival’. Inside was a letter from CEO Heather Campbell, who shared her personal insights about returning to one of the reserves for the first time after the fires.

Knowing ‘Bushies’ like to be kept updated and informed about the reserves they’ve invested in; Marlin included a lift mechanism that had a comprehensive update about the fire-impacted reserves and the wildlife affected.

To amplify the gratitude we enclosed a thank you card, hand-signed by all seven of the fire-impacted reserve managers. 

Crucially, there were no direct asks or dollar handles in the pack. Instead, we included a stripped-back response form, where the donor could personally choose how much they wished to donate.  

Influence / impact

Bringing the donor incredibly close to the field staff with the hand-signed card was well received. Donors wrote letters and emails back to Bush Heritage Australia to say thank you and express their gratitude and appreciation for having not been ‘asked’ to donate money, although most did! They acknowledged Bush Heritage Australia’s care for Australia and for people who may have been affected by the fires.


●      Raised 266 per cent of target income

●      Generated a 12 per cent increase in  gross income  year-on-year vs. the classic fundraising appeal the previous year (autumn appeal 2019)