Major and high value donor
You can help build the Daintree's largest nursery
In mid 2020, Rainforest Rescue had access to two tree-nurseries which had an annual capacity of 27,000 trees. For many years, Rainforest Rescue struggled to increase their capacity beyond this. After considering a range of expansion options with their main nursery, they decided to build a new nursery close to the Daintree Rainforest which would significantly increase tree production to 150,000 trees per year.
Rainforest Rescue was trying to raise far more than it had ever done before—just over $400,000. There was no limitation on vision; just a limitation on their internal capacity to create and develop an effective Major Donor campaign.
The solution was a highly tailored and personalised pack for both major and high value donors.
This campaign was incredibly successful. It raised $567,871.58 from 104 donors donors—far more than ever expected.
This campaign was a real leap forward for Rainforest Rescue..
In mid-2020, Rainforest Rescue had access to two tree nurseries which had an annual capacity of 27,000 trees. For many years, Rainforest Rescue struggled to increase its capacity beyond this.
After considering a range of expansion options with their main nursery, they decided to build a new nursery close to the Daintree Rainforest which would significantly increase tree production to 150,000 trees per year.
As Rainforest Rescue have a vibrant Buy Back and Protect program, boosting their restoration capacity has a certain visionary, evolutionary feel to it. However, the organisation has always favoured buyback over restoration. Their CEO wanted to prioritise both; believing that if Rainforest Rescue could provide more trees for restoration, more restoration would be possible.
The simplicity and vision of this was consistent with the expectations of major and high-value donors.
Before commencing this new nursery project, Rainforest Rescue secured project commitments from selected partner organisations—sufficient for the project to feel like there would be some support for the new endeavour as this had never been done before.
With this confidence boost, Rainforest Rescue engaged their major and high-value donors with a direct campaign for funding.
Rainforest Rescue was trying to raise far more than it had ever done before—just over $400,000. It was more than twice the funding commitment sought than any previous property buy-back appeal.
Central to this campaign was Rainforest Rescue’s reputation, the effectiveness of their current nursery and how that relates to the success of past restoration work.
The timing of this was right and many supporters shared a belief that the best way to act on Climate Change and restore the precious Daintree Rainforest that so many love, was by planting more trees… many, many more trees.
The simplicity of this was compelling.
There was no limitation on vision; just a limitation on their internal capacity to create and develop an effective Major Donor campaign. There was only one fundraiser on staff—who was also their CEO—and with significant internal pressure and time demands from other areas of the organisation, it was very difficult to focus attention and complete this campaign.
By engaging Marlin, Rainforest Rescue helped augment and add to their internal capacity to create an effective case for support.
The solution was a highly tailored and personalised pack for both major and high-value donors.
Rainforest Rescue had to move fast, and it was decided that the simplest way to the segment was to address this to their top one hundred donors.
The high level of personalisation included:
- Hand-stamped C4 outer kraft envelopes.
- Digitally printed messaging on a main ‘carrier’ folder which included the recipient’s name.
- Internally addressed message from the Rainforest Rescue Chair.
- A three-page personal letter from the CEO.
- Personalisation throughout the accompanying five-page proposal, and
- Personally addressed donation form paper-clipped to DL RPE
There were many elements—about nine in total, each with a purpose and each adding to the overall proposition—and the whole pack was hand-collated. The format was unique, different, and unexpected—this matched the gravity and significance of the support sought.
The highly tailored approach gave it a compelling and warm personal touch; which was exactly as Branden, Rainforest Rescue’s CEO had intended. Simple cues such as using a blue-stamped signature from Branden and the intricate nature of the pack collation made this a very one-to-one proposal. Persuasive, and difficult to ignore.
The first 98 packs for major and high-value donors were followed by an ask to 82 mid-value donors—those who had demonstrated the capacity to donate, although not at the same levels as major and high-value donors. The asks included in the letter and response mech were reduced to reflect their previous giving history. Once the main major and high-value donor materials were created, this proved to be a very efficient and cost-effective adjustment to another donor segment.
“Rainforest Rescue lacked the capacity to create and develop a high-quality proposal Major Donor campaign. Working with Karl from Marlin was great—his enthusiasm and assistance throughout the development and implementation of this helped us to see that with the right approach, the right messaging in the right format, we would be able to get our case for support into our donor’s hands… and get them to act accordingly. It has been a terrific success… I can’t thank Marlin enough for the support they’ve given and their belief in this project, and its importance.”Branden Barber, CEORainforest Rescue
This campaign was incredibly successful. It raised $567,871.58 from 104 donors—far more than ever expected.
The case for support was also used for trust and foundation funding requests, and in the time since, has proved to be very effective. From a small team, it showed that big ambitions are indeed possible—and that in the major and high-value donor area, that what appeals most is exactly that; big dreams and the promise of having a major impact.
As the reality of this project’s significance to build the Daintree’s largest nursery emerges, the longer-term role of this becomes increasingly apparent. There is so much demand for trees to be met—from existing and new partners, projects, and new tree-planting carbon credits using Rainforest Rescue’s tree planting methodology—that the commercial side to tree sales could become a successful social enterprise in itself within 2-3 years.
This was a unique campaign for Rainforest Rescue. Typically, Rainforest Rescue attach a property profile for a ‘help us rescue this property’ campaign. In this case it was a capital campaign for a visionary endeavour that would both increase the footprint of the world’s most ancient rainforest as well as help mitigate global warming.
The assets developed also gave us a template and a story arc for our EDM series which was sent to all Rainforest Rescue supporters and to the general public.
If you are ready to accelerate the growth of your major donor program, then please feel free to get in touch.