Appealing Campaign Strategy & Implementation for PDSA

#Acquisition #Charity #Strategy

#ForPets PDSA Winter Appeal 2021

We started working with PDSA back in 2018, helping to transform their approach to CRM and supporting their fundraising activity across the board. By planning, designing, and delivering emotive cross-channel campaigns, we’ve worked with PDSA to meet and exceed their fundraising targets. And in 2021, Flourish supported PDSA with their winter fundraising campaign.

PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) is the UK’s leading vet charity, providing free and low-cost treatment to pets in need, from families on low incomes.

Our teams have a wealth experience working in the charity sector, supporting organisations with fundraising and legacy marketing activities to raise awareness of their causes, and secure funds for the future of their work.


raised from the campaign, £31,381 over the target


average email open rate, higher than the previous campaign

The Story of PDSA’s Winter Fundraising Campaign

In 2021, we developed PDSA’s winter fundraising campaign to run across multiple marketing channels. The campaign was aimed at both warm and cold audiences, to run for a minimum of three months from October 2021. Having worked on similar campaigns, we knew from data insights that this time of year was a prime time for charitable giving. That was supported by our research, too, which indicated improvements in the overall consumer confidence index during that period.

Working closely with PDSA, we identified key audiences, including prospect, development and reactivation supporters, plus ‘cold’ audiences that were yet to be recruited. We then analysed existing data to establish the right channels for the target market. That included email, Direct Response Television (DRTV), paid social media activity, Google ads and retargeting using display ads.

The creative campaign needed to allow for the evolution of messaging across the campaign period, creating opportunities to communicate with key audiences – multiple times. With that in mind, we set about developing the overall campaign proposition.

Campaign Strategy, Planning and Creative

We identified an opportunity to help audiences recognise the joy and comfort that owning a pet can bring, with a particular focus on how important that’s been throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We used this concept to build on PDSA’s existing belief that no pet should suffer because of financial hardship.

The campaign was broken down into two phases – Prime and Ask. In the priming phase, warmer audiences were targeted, giving us a better understanding of the impact of our emotional messaging on giving behaviour. The content for the priming phase consisted of content planned, designed and implemented by the Flourish team:

  • Short emotional film
  • A suite of emotional organic social media assets
  • A suite of needs-based organic social media assets
  • A priming landing page
  • A series of emails featuring both emotional and needs-based content aimed at prospective and existing supporters respectively


The total income generated came in at £31,318 over the £530K target, which was a great success.

The average time spent on the priming landing page was 2mins 2secs, indicating most visitors watched the #forpets video in its entirety. In a time-poor world, that’s a great result.

The initial open rate for the email campaign was 14.6%. Combined with the follow-up email 48 hours later, it achieved an overall open rate of 25.8%, higher than the average of 22.93% for the 2020 campaign.

By implementing an email resend strategy, we were able to maximise the number of donations and the follow-up direct marketing earned £216k against the original target of £159k – an increase of £57k.

The campaign also had some unexpected engagement from some high profile celebrity pet lovers – Ricky Gervais and Johnny Vegas, who both retweeted posts from the campaign with the fundraising link. Johnny Vegas even added a picture of himself and his pet who was cared for by PDSA when he was younger, showing his gratitude for the work they do, see the tweets in the image below.

The success of this campaign shows how a well thought-out, cross-channel strategy, combined with compelling creative delivered at the right time to the right audience, can deliver results that exceed expectations.

PDSA ricky gervais johnny vegas

Need help with your fundraising campaigns?

At Flourish, we’re continuing to grow our client base within the charity sector, helping non-profit organisations to expand their audience and fund their crucial, ongoing work.

If you work for a charity and want expert advice on planning, designing and implementing your fundraising campaigns, get in touch contact our Business Development Manager Aimee directly at [email protected].