Case Study: Sightsavers Ireland

The Charity

Did you know that 80 per cent of all blindness in the world could be prevented or cured? That’s over 31 million people who are unnecessarily blind.

Sightsavers work in over 30 developing countries to prevent avoidable blindness and to promote equal opportunities for disabled people.


The Challenge

Sightsavers needed to refine their fundraising strategies in order to drive increased donor acquisition. Sightsavers traditionally use a mix of donor acquisition methods such as direct response TV, door to door and direct mail, which in recent years have struggled to deliver required volume of new donors. Sightsavers were keen to explore innovative recruitment alternatives.

Sightsavers approached LIKECHARITY looking to develop a strong, stable, regular stream of donors to help them achieve their goal of making avoidable blindness a thing of the past. 

The Approach

We looked at all of Sightsavers’ former campaigns and identified what worked and what needed improvement. Based on these learnings it was clear that Sightsavers were in need of a sustainable, predictable process of donor acquisition that would be ‘always on’ rather than a campaign devised just for short-term success.

Sightsavers acknowledged that although Direct Response TV advertising can be an expensive channel at the outset, attrition rates are far lower when compared to other acquisition methods.

We proposed devising a 30 second TV advertisement that would tell a simple and engaging story about what Sightsavers can do. By keeping the ad within a 30 second time slot, advertisements could be aired more frequently than traditional 60 or 90 second charity advertising.

One of Sightsavers’ strongest messages is how unfair it is that people are going blind unnecessarily, when an easy solution is available. We captured this message by displaying an image of Talla, who suffers from trachoma. Like many of the people Sightsavers work with, Talla was going blind and needed a sight saving treatment.

One of the most important requirements of our ad was to depict how easily TV viewers could change a blind person’s life. The message to viewers was simple and clear, they could play an active part  in eliminating avoidable blindness. This approach allowed viewers to feel a sense of personal accountability for helping to tackle avoidable blindness. As a consequence of this we saw a huge level of engagement from the public.

Simplicity is key here at LIKECHARITY, and we believe in putting the donor in control of their donation. The easiest method to communicate these days is via text message, yet people still like the human aspect of a voice at the end of a phone. We found a middle ground with this and the ad asked viewers to send in a text and let Sightsavers know they were interested in supporting their cause. Viewers who sent a text message would then be contacted over the phone by our call centre.

We employed our preferred call centre for the project, a partner organisation who understand the LIKECHARITY process from end to end. We arranged a number of training sessions throughout the campaign between the call agents, LIKECHARITY and representatives from Sightsavers to ensure that the recruitment process was fully optimised.

Our team monitored the performance of both the the call centre and the TV ad on a daily basis. Monitoring each individual piece of media in real time allowed us to eliminate low-performing, and increase high-performing, media spots. This ensured our media spend was used as effectively as possible.

Potential donors were encouraged to consider donating as little as €4 but many wanted to become more involved and signed up over the phone to become a regular donor to Sightsavers Ireland.

The Results

We launched the campaign across various TV slots, from daytime viewing  to more expensive primetime slots on RTÉ. Our strategy was to initially target a broad range of viewers and not just audiences that Sightsavers had previously identified as their principal supporters. The process was optimised over several weeks and within a month our initial target had not only been achieved, but surpassed. Happy with the initial results, Sightsavers decided to commit further to our process, and asked for the advertisement to remain active beyond the initial target. We agreed upon a further number of donors to be recruited, month on month, for three months within set budget parameters.

The real acid test for Sightsavers however was to measure the attrition rates of these newly acquired donors. This would allow Sightsavers to fully assess the overall viability of our process. Early attrition rates proved to be extremely low - in the first three months less than 2% of donors canceled or failed to pay their monthly donation.

Sightsavers also reported a sizable increase in organic donations to their website, which they attributed to the brand awareness created by the TV advertisement and the vast new audience it reached.

Based on these results, Sightsavers deemed the Engage platform an effective, sustainable method of acquiring regular donors. Sightsavers tasked LIKECHARITY with managing an ongoing recruitment process with regular performance reviews intermittently.

Why it Worked

We worked closely with Sightsavers to understand their needs and to design a sustainable programme that would suit them best . We were agile in our creative and strategic approach, assessing results on a daily basis and making immediate changes when necessary. This allowed us to ensure that every penny was spent wisely, improving the overall efficiency of the campaign.

What our Client Said

LIKECHARITY are an innovative, dynamic and data driven organisation which Sightsavers are delighted to partner with in the delivery of our donor acquisition programme.
— Carol Casey, Head of Individual Fundraising & Marketing