Direct mail is still critical to today’s fundraising strategy

The charity:

When life is on the line and every moment counts, Life Flight emergency air service is there for New Zealanders in need. More than 30,000 people have already been helped. And every day, another four critically ill or injured people will need Life Flight to deliver the vital care they need quickly and safely.


The brief:

The need for Life Flight’s intensive care air ambulance services had almost doubled. To purchase a second Jetstream 32 plane to meet the need, they had used their reserves and a loan.

Life Flight, in partnership with Pareto Fundraising, developed a direct mail capital campaign that would inspire different groups of existing donors to cover the cost of the Jetstream 32, as well as equip it as a flying intensive care unit.

The approach:

Two direct mail packs were developed – for lower value and higher value donors. Both packs led with the heart-breaking story of baby Phoebe, who just days after her birth, was close to death after her organs started to shut down. She was transferred urgently to a special unit in Auckland by Life Flight’s air ambulance.

Without Life Flight, and their two operating air ambulances, Phoebe may not have made it.

In addition to Phoebe’s story, both mail packs featured ‘lifts’ about the Jetstream 32’s features and its equipment fit-out, and another lift about Phoebe.

The high-value pack further recognised donors by using a C4 handwritten and stamped outer envelope, premium paper and an invitation to tour the new plane. Plus, a technical specifications lift about the aircraft.

The standard value pack was sent in a pre-printed, bar coded, DLX outer envelope.

Life Flight’s regular donors, known as Red Angels, were sent the standard value pack with personalisation acknowledging their ongoing, regular support of Life Flight.

Importantly, donations were matched dollar for dollar by The Morgan Foundation.

The results:

As an additional mailing to their normal fundraising program, the capital campaign direct mail pack needed to show real need and urgency in order to gain extra donations from their donor base.

The results exceeded budget expectations.

The $200,000 income target was beaten by $41, 510 (21%). Overall average gift per donor was 9% above target and 21% higher than a standard, scheduled direct mail appeal.

The high average gift for the high value pack also warranted the additional spend on this donor segment.

As a test segment, the pack was also mailed to a segment of Life Flight’s non -financial donors, resulting in a well above target 10% response rate.

The Life Flight Plane campaign which included the direct mail pack has since been shortlisted in the TVNZ Awards.

“Life Flight has been working with Pareto Fundraising for over five years. They have been instrumental in our direct mail acquisition work recruiting thousands of new donors to the Life Flight programme. Their creative, data and project management work is of the highest standard. Over this period the donor development work has been strong and great results have been seen. 

Last year also saw us work with them on a capital appeal to existing donors which exceeded targets set by 21%. This together with some clever creative and solid data work meant Life Flight could pay off the loan taken to purchase a second plane to help save more lives every day.

Getting new donors and developing them is key to any fundraising programme and Pareto have delivered on this via this work.”

Raj Desani
Giving Manager, Life Flight

History of work:

Pareto Fundraising and Life Flight have been working together since 2010. We have provided strategic support as well as the development of both warm and acquisition mail packs.


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