Meet Nana Mur­phy: lessons in donor care from Mer­chants Quay Ireland

Exhibited by
Lisa Sargent, Denisa Casement & Sandi Collette
May 18, 2017
Medium of Communication
Direct Mail
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Poverty/social justice
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

This case study celebrates a success the likes of which even we at SOFII have rarely encountered. Acknowledging their lack of a strong fundraising strategy, in 2008 Merchants Quay Ireland (a charity supporting people experiencing homelessness) turned to three world-class experts for help. During the worst fundraising environment Ireland had ever known, Denisa Casement, Lisa Sargent and Sandra Collette adopted the brave and passionate commitment to put Merchants Quay Ireland’s donors first.

To make this real they created the persona of Nana Murphy, then fell in love with her and simply couldn’t do enough for her. The results are incredible, making this an essential guide to achieving brilliant results in troubled times.


There is so much to single out and applaud in this case study, but let's look at the numbers: an annual revenue increase from EUR€250,000 to €3 million; a donor retention rate increase from 57 per cent to 69 per cent; an active donor file of 17,000 in 2016 compared to under 2,000 in 2008; a donor newsletter response rates increase from 2.7 per cent to nearly 14 per cent. Most of these feats were achieved in a five-to-eight year spell. These are results even the biggest charities would envy. 

From the moment they were brought in to transform Merchants Quay Ireland, Denisa Casement, Lisa Sargent and Sandra Collette were faced with incredibly trying circumstances as the Irish financial crisis hit donors hard and caused a shocking increase in homelessness. Over the years, the trio would face more challenges as a series of scandals rocked the Irish charities sector. In such a context, Denisa, Sandra and Lisa's achievements are all the more inspiring and worthy of celebration.


Lisa, Denisa and Sandra didn’t just implement a new fundraising strategy that put donors at the heart of the charity's work and provide them with interesting and exciting information, they also delivered results for their beneficiaries, multiplying the amount of help they could provide to Ireland's homeless, from clothes to shelter to food and drink. From end-to-end, this is a heart-warming and powerful example of the good charities can do with brilliant donor-based fundraising.

So, go on, treat yourself to a nice cuppa, settle down deep in your favourite armchair and enjoy the most instructive, inspirational case history you’ll come across in a very long time.

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