The Lost Dogs’ Home, Mel­bourne: direct mail acquisition

Exhibited by
August 25, 2009
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Individuals, regular gift
Type of Charity
Environmental / animals
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
December, 2005

SOFII’s view

The Lost Dogs’ Home, Melbourne, Australia is not just an exemplary practitioner of donor-centred relationship fundraising, they are also highly original and innovative. Everything they do is worth watching, there’s always something to learn from LDH.

Creator / originator

Account director (Pareto Fundraising) – Vanessa Byrne. Account manager (Pareto Fundraising) – Tasman Matthews.

Summary / objectives

Specific objectives for this campaign were to:

  • Acquire new regular givers.
  • Generate cash donations.
  • Test the affect of a long letter versus a short letter on response and ROI.
  • Identify a new best performing pack.


This appeal formed part of an overall acquisition strategy to grow the Lost Dogs’ Home’s database, in particular its monthly giving programme.

The Home had continued to achieve excellent results in their previous acquisition campaigns. The five mailings before this had provided LDH with two successful banker packs, thousands of new regular givers and had each recovered costs within 15 months.

As part of the Home’s ongoing fundraising objective to constantly improve existing DM tools, we wanted to take what we had learned from the most recent mailings and apply these to a new pack. Existing banker packs had been used consistently throughout the previous two years and we felt that this was the right time to ‘rest’ them and test the effect of a new creative approach in our DM acquisition mix.

Past propositions had also focused on the shelter and adoption side of the Home’s work. For the new pack we wanted to try a new proposition, focusing more on neglect and animal cruelty.

Special characteristics

  • The letter was a ‘one-to-one’ communication from LDH’s managing director. The copy was colloquial and open, to create trust so that prospects would feel confident about making a gift to a potentially unknown charity. We also incorporated the highest possible level of personalisation for a cold audience, using the recipient’s name, city and state in the copy to make them feel that the letter was written only for them.
  • The proposition focused on the magnitude of the problem to reinforce the need. We told prospects what we needed them to do, why, by when and exactly how their donation would make a difference.
  • We knew our prospects were older so the response form was large and clearly designed making it extremely easy to complete.
  • We expressed the ask amount as a ‘per day’ figure so that it would seem more achievable and break down any financial barriers to giving, plus demonstrate the impact of the gift no matter how big or small.
  • The packs looked warm, authentic and personal. There wasn’t any message on the outer envelope, to maximise the chances of it being opened.
  • The letter included a case study of a dog LDH and its donors had helped and detailed how more animals like this one could be helped with their support.

Influence / impact

This mailing provided the Home with yet another successful DM acquisition pack that can be added to their current fundraising mix which can be alternated and further amended for each campaign according to the specific objectives.


Two tests were carried out in this campaign:

  • Best performing acquisition pack vs newly developed ‘cruelty’ pack.
  • Long letter (6pp) vs short letter (4pp).


All costs are exclusive of GST (local Australian tax). All amounts are in Australian dollars.

List fees $26,114
Agency fee $25,870
Print & production $34,148
Postage $21,303
TOTAL $107,435


General result:

RG response rate 0.6%
Cash response rate 0.3%
1 Year ROI 0.66
5 Year ROI 2.88

Test result:

Pack RG Response Average gift Year 1 ROI Year 5 ROI
Banker 0.45% $10.17 0.51 2.22
‘Cruelty’ long letter 0.76% $10.87 0.88 3.83
‘Cruelty’ short letter 0.65% $10.73 0.75 3.36


Attracting and recruiting new donors is a huge challenge for charities. Competition for the charity dollar in Australia is fierce and raising funds has become increasingly difficult as more charities enter the marketplace, the larger ones dominate, acquisition list options become slimmer and more and more security legislation is passed that makes it difficult to access useful sources of acquisition data.

This pack is a perfect example, if a charity is to continue to recruit new donors cost-effectively, of how important it is to constantly strive to improve DM fundraising tools through finding a new proposition and developing a new pack that reflects learnings from previous campaigns.

Other relevant information

You can view the pack elements in PDF format here:

Lift letter
Reply envelope
Reply form