WWF: Year of the Tiger Christ­mas appeal 2009

Exhibited by
Tim Longfoot, Managing Director at Open Fundraising.
May 16, 2014
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Animals, environmental
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
December, 2009

SOFII’s view

We love this exhibit. Not only was it wildly successful, it is also an excellent example of how one campaign with an urgent and compelling message can be tailored and shaped to fit different types of donor. This is an example of integrated fundraising at its best.

Creator / originator

WWF and Open Fundraising.

Name of exhibitor

Tim Longfoot, Managing Director at Open Fundraising.

Summary / objectives

WWF is on the frontline of protecting tigers in the wild. When they discovered that the number of wild tigers had dropped to just 3,200, they launched an integrated Christmas campaign designed to appeal to both warm and cold donors.

By highlighting the danger of extinction - and their plans to prevent it, they aimed to raise £150,000.


To maximise the impact of such a dramatic fall in tiger numbers WWF and Open Fundraising launched a fully integrated emergency appeal to core, mid-value and regular donors. In addition, full-page adverts were run across the national press and WWF's on-line networks were activated.

Coincidentally, the forthcoming Chinese new-year marked the start of the year of the tiger.

Special characteristics

The packs avoided a glossy, mass-produced style and deliberately went for a highly personal 'inside track' approach. The outers were manilla (and stamped in the case of the mid value pack). The usual 'leaflet' was replaced with a photocopied factsheet – demonstrating how WWF can reverse the decline in tiger numbers. The donation forms were deliberately basic looking.

The impression WWF were aiming for was a communication prepared in haste and in response to a desperate situation.

Visual impact was provided by two images of a snared tiger, which were enclosed in another manilla envelope – this one bearing a handwritten warning about their contents. The idea was to prepare donors for a shock and ensure that they looked at images that not only dramatized the need but also connected them directly to WWF field staff.

Engagement with the project was facilitated via a postcard – which WWF encouraged donors to use to send a message to rangers working to protect tigers in the field.

Much of the pack's creativity, however, was within the copy where multiple personalisation variables made for letters that really felt like they had been written with the individual alone in mind. Donors to a previous leopard appeal, for example, were reminded of the value of their gift and received a specific update on the project they helped to fund.

The pack was presented in two formats – a simple C5 version for the bulk of the file and a more personalised A4 version for mid value donors.

The reminder mailings were very different in their approach. The proposition was linked directly to The Big Give – where up to £100k match funding was on offer for any gift given on-line.

Given the simplicity of the proposition – give online and double your money –WWF went for clarity and directness. The mailing pack didn't even need to be opened in order to respond.

A postcard sent to non-mail regular givers made a similar direct appeal. Sometimes, an offer is so good you don't need to dress it up.

The national press campaign featured a series of long-copy adverts. Editorial in style, urgent and peer-to-peer.


This campaign was incredibly successful. Each aspect of the appeal achieved an overwhelming response and WWF raised far more than their initial target income.

The huge upswell of emotional engagement that was evident in the messages received from donors has convinced WWF to offer donors the chance to give more than money at every suitable opportunity. The success of personalisation, meanwhile, meant that increasingly data-led creative will be the rule for future appeals.

This appeal was adapted for WWF Canada beating their own tiger appeal by 100%.


The campaign target was £150,000 and raised well over £500,000. Throughout 2010, the year of the tiger, WWF have continued to fundraise to help the tigers, achieving record-breaking results across all channels to both warm and cold audiences. These will be documented on SOFII in the near future.


The success of this campaign really speaks for itself. However, this exhibit also demonstrates the effectiveness of a fully integrated campaign and how much can be achieved when different donors and their different preferences are taken into account.

Other relevant information

Look out for more WWF Year of the Tiger exhibits coming soon to SOFII.

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This is the appeal that was sent to all WWF core donors. This was the most successful appeal in the organisations history.
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A copy of the letter included in the pack.
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This is a postcard that was sent to younger regular givers who tend not to respond to direct mail with a simple and compelling call to action to give on-line and double your money.
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This is a full copy ad that was run in the national press on the first day of The Big Give.