'And I Should Support You ... Why?'
The law was passed, but it meant an immediate increase in the society's workload for its inspectors and animal centers. The RSPCA made a call to animal lovers to "join our biggest animal rescue" in mail, DRTV and online. The campaign ran for several years, and when the economic downturn saw people unable to look after their pets and dumping them outside RSPCA animal centers, this bolstered the case for support. Another proposition was born: "Help the credit crunch victims."
So even events that might seem detrimental to giving can be used to create compelling propositions. This is where charities have to examine the ways they work and the external influences on their services, and identify reasons to give, even from the most unpromising situations.
Can they 'see' it?
Tangible propositions, where the audience is asked to donate to fund specific items or projects, are very effective. Whether it's a sachet of rehydration salts to stop a child dying from diarrheal diseases, a square meter of a wildlife reserve or a meal for a homeless person, donors like to feel that their gifts do something that they can easily visualize.
When Greenpeace commissioned its new Rainbow Warrior vessel, it used the online arena to demonstrate a compelling proposition. Donors could see the plans of the ship online and choose which parts to pay for, from a bolt, to an anchor, soap dish, a piece of sail or even the whole wheelhouse. This "crowdsourcing" attracted more than 100,000 donors, each buying a different part of the vessel.
Propositions like this can work in any media — and in different cultures, too. In 1997, the Ethiopian branch of a small charity, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, was working to replant trees in Ethiopia to counter the damaging effects of deforestation. This was the first time direct-mail fundraising was attempted in Ethiopia, but the proposition that a donation would plant a tree brought a fantastic response rate. You can read the fascinating story behind this campaign on the SOFII website.