Campaign: Kitten appeal nets cash for abandoned felines

In August, feline welfare charity Cats Protection ran its annual Kitten Crisis Appeal. This year it wanted to raise funds for the 20,000-plus animal orphans it cares for annually (most arrive over the summer).

Campaign Kitten Crisis Appeal
Client Cats Protection
PR team In-house
Timescale July-September 2006
Budget Undisclosed

Following a delay to the start of the cat-breeding season - owing to unseasonably cold weather - the 2006 appeal focused on an expected late influx of abandoned kittens through to early autumn. To support this initiative, the charity ran an integrated campaign involving its fundraising, design and PR teams, with backing from direct-mail company TDA.

Objectives
To obtain financial support from the charity's database of existing donors, and encourage the public to help alleviate the problem of abandoned and unwanted kittens by neutering their adult cats.

Strategy and Plan
Cats Protection decided to test two fundraising routes: ‘soft' mailing (comprising soft-focus pictures of kittens playing with balls of wool); and ‘hard' mailing (including graphic illustrations of abandoned cats' plight).

The 94,000 donors on the charity's database were divided, with half being sent ‘soft' information, and half receiving ‘hard' information. Meanwhile, the team issued a press release to national, trade, regional and consumer press, highlighting the need for donations and flagging up the other ways in which individuals could support the charity - by rehoming a cat or neutering their own pets, for example.

The charity's national network of 29 Adoption Centres and 261 volunteer-run branches also made use of the Kitten Crisis theme in communication with local media. A follow-up mailing was sent out to prompt database
members to make a gift to the kitten appeal, if they had not already done so.

Measurement and Evaluation
The appeal gained more than 30 items of coverage, which featured in specialist titles such as Your Cat, Cat World, Rescue Magazine and Retirement Today. A number of regional newspapers, ranging from the Aberdeen Evening Express to the Brighton Argus, also covered the story.

The campaign was also picked up by Third Sector and Marketing magazines, which flagged up the charity's new hard-hitting approach to raising funds and awareness.

Results
The ‘soft' and ‘hard' mailouts generated almost 8,000 responses combined.The response rate from the harder     -hitting mailouts was 45 per cent, according to Cats Protection. Unfortunately, there are no statistics available for the ‘soft' mailouts.

Donations are still coming in, but to date the campaign has raised £213,000.

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