World Wildlife Fund Canada Piece takes positive tone

Client: World Wildlife Fund CanadaAgency: Wunderman WorldwideKey to the success of the World Wildlife Fund's most recent direct mail donor campaign was its positive tone, says Ana White, manager of membership development at the Toronto-based World Wildlife Fund Canada.While the four-page...

Client: World Wildlife Fund Canada

Agency: Wunderman Worldwide

Key to the success of the World Wildlife Fund’s most recent direct mail donor campaign was its positive tone, says Ana White, manager of membership development at the Toronto-based World Wildlife Fund Canada.

While the four-page letter outlined problems faced by black bears, beluga whales and the Atlantic bluefin tuna, among other species that make Canada their home, it also discussed the solutions proposed by the wildlife protection organization.

‘We wanted to position ourselves as an organization that gets results,’ White says.

‘As a donor, I would be frustrated to always be sending in money and never hear about what results the organization is getting,’ she says.

‘It’s true that the situation is not getting better in a number of areas, but it’s also nice to know the organization you are suppporting is the most effective, results-oriented group you can send your money to.’

Recipients were given a free panda decal and offered an enamelled pin showing the wwf logo in return for a donation of $25 or more.

The premium proved to be a popular draw. According to White, the packaged outperformed its predecessor by a significant margin.

Q. How did the campaign come about?

A. It had been four or five years since we had done an acquisition mailing. But tough economic times coupled with growing competition from other charities encouraged us to restart our direct mail donor campaign.

Q. What were your objectives?

A. To enlist new members for World Wildlife Fund, with the secondary objective of breaking even.

We wanted to beat our old control package which hadn’t been tested since the mid ’80s. And in terms of developing the fulfilment package, we wanted to sell the whole concept of membership, to make our new donors feel part of the organization.

We had been running other direct marketing campaigns for acquisition, including our retail program, with some success, but direct mail is always the most cost-effective way to increase the size of one’s donor base.

Q. Why did you select direct marketing as the medium to get your message across?

A. For one thing, it’s difficult to describe everything we do [in other media.] You can’t really sum it up in one sentence. You could say we work to preserve wildlife and wild places, but we have a number of different programs.

Many Canadians associated us with only one of our programs – our rainforest protection program.

We had to help Canadianize our image because we have, in fact, a very strong Canadian program. Three-quarters of the work we fund is in Canada, but most people weren’t aware of that.

Direct mail was a good vehicle for us because it allowed us to go into detail and explain more about the organization and Canadian conservation programs.

Q. What was it about the creative that made the campaign work?

A. There was a very strong logo identification. The pin they were offered was simply our logo. The decal upfront was just our logo. There were no photos of grizzly bears or elephants.

We also took advantage of the long-letter-versus-short-letter convention. We wanted to educate people about our work, and break preconceptions that we were a rainforest group only, or we were an international group that worked on rhinos and elephants only. So the long letter worked very well.

One of the main strategies we had was to sell the concept of membership, of belonging to the organization.

On the fulfilment side, we provided them a welcome booklet. Within the booklet was a ‘we’re listening’ guarantee, asking them to tell us how many times a year they want to receive mail, and whether they want us to trade their name – giving them a number of options to make them feel like we are actually listening to them.

The booklet also lists the different benefits. They receive a quarterly newsletter (‘Working for Wildlife’) and an endangered species poster when we update the list every year.

There are various product offers. We are working with our corporate sponsors so that wwf members will receive discounts for certain products and services.

By making them feel part of the organization, we are hoping to increase their lifetime with the World Wildlife Fund.

And by focussing on their individual needs, not treating them as just someone who gives money to World Wildlife Fund, we hope to move them up along the donor pyramid.

As soon as they become a supporter, we start to build a personal relationship with them, even when they are part of a huge donor base.

We hope, eventually, to move them up to our monthly chequing program, have them make larger donations, and, of course, at the end of it all, have them leave us something in their will.