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Trócaire - Give Water, Give Life (to your Summer appeal)

The Challenge

The summer appeal set us several challenges :

  • Trócaire’s successful Lenten campaign landed in March, with the campaign running over multiple media until April. Traditionally the summer months tend not to perform to the heights of other mailings throughout the year.
  • The ongoing drought and resulting hunger crisis in east Africa had been in the news and touched on by other charities for months, so we needed a new way to fundraise on this issue to combat donor apathy and make our campaign stand out.
  • 2017 saw a doubling of Trócaire’s DM income year on year, over a total of six campaigns: contributing to this success was our first successful trial of the exceptional ask tactic for Trócaire (which you can read more about here or on SOFII). Could we repeat – or even exceed – that benchmark in 2018?


The Execution

We knew from our donor research that donors like feeling the work is accessible to them; and Trócaire’s donors in particular value their religious ethos. We used Tipperary native Sarah McCan, Trócaire’s Country Director in Zimbabwe to make the appeal with a six-page letter with plenty of images and handwritten notes (yes, six pages!). We backed that up with an ‘inside track’ to a recent Bishops’ visit to Zimbabwe, designed to look and feel like a field report: both of these showed the impact of the work first-hand.

Instead of focusing on the whole scale of the issues affecting people in Zimbabwe, the focus was on just one where donors could feel they would have an immediate impact: providing water.

The topic of the appeal was also perfect for a tangible high ask: in this case, a well. This ask was made by Head of Fundraising in a highly personalised extra letter. The Give Water Give Life leaflet supported the exceptional ask showing the impact that a well has on not just individuals, but families and communities. Using the flow of the water, the piece unfolds showing the changes from dry soil, into a sprouting crop: visualising the outcome of the donor’s gift.

The Results

  • Total Income target exceeded expectations at 166% of target (and that target was higher than 2017's). 
  • Average gift was €98 without the high donations (see below), which is exceptionally high for Trócaire.
  • 36 wells were funded by donors i.e.: 260% higher than target of 10, raising over €100,000 from less than 2% of the total mail file.
  • Several of these donors have the potential to become Major Donors in the future, all having never given at this level before.

The summer doesn’t have to be a bad time for fundraising, and the exceptional ask doesn’t just work once. This appeal shows the value of using what research is telling you what donors want – and giving it to them.