Charity is one of the biggest users of print, from letters to donors, forms filled in in the street, posters and signage in high street shops, the charitable sector remains wedded to print.
The RNLI last year noted “Direct mail is one of the most cost effective ways of reaching new RNLI supporters” on a door drop mailing.
With almost 165,000 charities registered in the UK, the combined spending on print is more than significant, and equally print can have a more than significant effect on the success of those charities.
Some use print for purely functional purposes, others run inhouse design and production teams and are prepared to use print in innovative and creative ways. Age UK produced a magazine cover using heat sensitive inks to highlight the plight of old people unable to afford winter fuel bills for example.
In either case, print remains vital to how charities attract donations and printers can assist, through offering additional services, through suggesting ways to trim spending, by coordinating how branches and regional teams present themselves and above all by offering affirmation that the request for a donation is legitimate.
A missive by email is likely to be treated in the same way as an email suggesting that a Paypal account has been compromised, that you need to login to you bank account or there is a tax refund waiting. Print provides hard evidence that the request for a contribution is legitimate.
Howard Hunt works for many in the sector.
“It’s one of our biggest sectors,” says marketing manager Georgina Groombridge. “We have an on site team at Cancer Research acting as print manager for them. We also work for Age UK, Help for Heroes and the NSPCC. It’s proof that charities have a massive use for print, and we encourage them to look at more innovative ways of using digital print for example.”
Digital print is ideal for fund raising events where signage and banners need printing through to the numbers on the vests of the participants. Clothing linked to the event and the charity can also be sold to raise money.
Howard Hunt is also using its data handling capabilities to help target and to reduce waste. “It’s all about finding ways to make things more efficient,” says Groombridge. One key way is to create a website which carries approved templates that the regional branches of a charity can order collateral from, ensuring that brand consistency is carried through and that presentations are professional and consistent.
While the large national charities will have such systems in place, smaller more regional charities could also benefit from this sort of approach.
“Fund raising teams around the country can order through a portal rather than contact central marketing for every poster or try to create their own. It’s about trying to help them make their communications more relevant to their audiences and to engage their supporters," she adds.
BCQ has begun working for Oxfam, one of the charities that has a central studio. It also has thousands of high street shops which need marketing material. BCQ produces this and other materials, but not its direct mail. “This can range from pop up banners to publicise local events, instore graphics and promotional materials,” says managing director Chris Knowles. “It used to be handled by a print management company, which became a block to communication. The print management company would take more time, while we are just down the road from them in Oxford so can turn work around quickly.”
The printer receives artwork from the charity and adds the FSC number for the job, as it is essential that this type of work is to the highest ethical standard. “Another reasons for their choosing a local supplier is the carbon footprint of delivering to their head office from Buckingham rather than sending work from across the country,” he explains.
FSC is essential, so too for most charities is uncoated paper as it looks less indulgent than a coated paper. And the paper needs to be as light as possible, Knowles adds. It is important to ensure they look like they are saving money in the public perception. “Print is produced to a point where it is functional but not extravagant,” he says. “All the charities we work for want us to deliver savings and effectiveness.”
One way to achieve the savings on direct mail at least is through shared mailings, which can make a significant difference to the smaller charities. Nova Direct Mail has set up Charityline.org.uk as a way to deliver these benefits to this group of organisations.
“And we have added lots of other services so that the smaller and mid-sized charities can afford services that would otherwise be outside their reach,” says managing director Andy Fry. This includes the ability to edit and ordered template artwork via a website. It is based on technology developed for a franchise network so that has been little that the organisation has to pay for. The company will also build a donations page into a website.
The website allows them to design and create relevant artwork as a PDF for printing. If this becomes a direct mail job, Nova can apply its vast database to apply suppression file filters to make sure that mailings are correctly targeted, saving money that can be spent of good causes.
“We can offer design services, cash collection and through partners we have, we can offer legal advice. We can build the personalised landing sites that capture more data about a sponsor or donor.”
The company first conceived the idea about three years ago, only now implementing it as a service to the third sector.
Data can be used in a number of ways, not always the most obvious. As an example Real Digital works for the Dogs Trust which rescues dangerous dogs and looks after them. It seeks sponsors for each animal and rewards the sponsor with updates, birthday cards and so on in order to keep the money flowing. But what the Dogs Trust does not want is the sponsor coming to pet his or her dog. Consequently Real Digital massages the data to ensure that dog and its sponsor are kept as far apart as possible, the dog in Southampton for example, the donor in Northampton if not further afield. But the company will use its database to match pictures of the dog with the card or letter to the charity’s supporter.
The raffle remains a popular means of raising money for a charity and Ha’penny Press, producing 300 million tickets a year, is among the largest in this niche. It has become a business that offers customers more than just draw tickets. There is advice about the legal requirements on staging draws; there is response handling for tickets that are sent out by post.
Grant Wright says that print more than justifies its place in this sector. “People think that they can save money by getting rid of print, but have found that it is just as expensive, if not more, to use digital channels.”
The company has developed a range of personalised products for school fundraising, from greetings cards that children can draw to tea towels with logos sold to parents whose child has drawn a scratchy self portrait.
Charities can fail, particularly those over dependent on limited sources of income, large grants for example, so those supplying print need to be aware of this. Some are wound up, having achieved their aims or been merged with another larger charity working in the same area, Age UK was formed from Age Concern and Help the Aged for example and some will rebrand, as Scope has, all of which requires print.
But it requires cost effective print. Nobody is going to work with a printer that over charges or is not sympathetic to the aims of the charity. Technology such as digital print can be a big help.
So too can web to print, either offered by the print supplier or managed by the charity itself. ROI360 has supplied systems to Sue Ryder and to the Cats Protection League, two very different charities, at least in their outward aims.
Both have gained control over their collateral, sometimes imposing brand identity over their enthusiastic local supporters. It has saved time in constantly redrawing artwork and therefore improves the efficiency of the operation.
Those looking for evidence that print is about to be replaced by digital communications will need to look elsewhere. Print is absolutely vital for the world of charities and no email is going to change that.
“I have been raising money for various charities for quite some years, says the managing director of large format printer Hollywood Monster. He started running marathons in 2005, completing the world’s main marathons each time for a different charity. “Tokyo was added to this list last year, so we needed to do it to keep the record intact. That was the personal reason behind the money raising effort.”
Andrews is known locally for these efforts on behalf of charities in the city and it means that the family owned business has gained a reputation locally for its contribution to the community. And because these are local charities, the business is directly associated with the positive change that it engenders.
“And this benefits the families and communities that our employees live in,” he says. His efforts have also encouraged others in the business to participate. Phil McKenzie joined Andrews in Tokyo, along with Alan Sarjant from customer Prologis, and six of the team are doing the London marathon.
“There is a huge sense of achievement from a personal point of view. We get great recognition from social media, receiving good will messages and it’s a great way of keeping fit.”
And there are also wider pay offs for the business. The publicity and impact that Hollywood Monster’s charity efforts have created have raised the profile of the business and it is considered a good place to work, so can attract a wider choice of staff. “If you are doing these things for the right reasons, the business can definitely benefit,” he says. “People want to join a business that has a positive impact on its community.”
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Its presidents have included high profile personalities from print and publishing and on occasion royalty.
Today the charity has a three-pronged approach. Retirees are still helped through sheltered accommodation in Basildon and Bletchley. There are grants made to those in distressed circumstances, perhaps as result of a company’s collapse or natural disaster like flooding, and more regular assistance to those on low incomes. And through the Print Futures Awards, there is support for young people to work in the wider world of print through bursaries to fund their studies.
The charity has spread its remit in recent years to support social partnerships and to work with organisations with similar aims. It works with Chiumento to help those unemployed to find new work while also providing grants to assist those needing training to acquire new skills to cope with the changing nature of print.
Funds are raised through investments as like many well established charities, the Printing Charity has received bursaries through the years. It has also absorbed other smaller funds like the John Crosfield Foundation recently which cannot support their overheads.
Money is also raised through its annual luncheon held at the Stationers’ Hall and through sponsorship of an Annual Golf Day, now one of the few where companies in the industry can compete with each other on the sports arena rather than for business. Last year a team from Newsprinters was the winner.
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Software developer Vpress is the latest company involved in raising £1,000 in a month for PrintIT, the industry funded programme to give school students a taste of the printing industry and to encourage them to consider print as a career.
The Cheltenham company is, however, no stranger to supporting charity events and has planned a world record attempt, which should it be approved by the Guinness World Records organisation, will prove a spectacular viral video hit. Marketing manager Emma Mortiboy was saying no more while the application process was in progress.
Last year the company became a supporter of the 100 Project, the brainchild of photographer Hywel Jenkins who created 100 inspiration shots of recovering cancer patients to raise money for cancer charities. It is based, like Vpress, in Cheltenham, which provided the initial contact.
The company marketed its support of the project to seek donations from across its customer base, Mortiboy reasoning “every donation makes a massive difference to the people battling cancer and there isn’t a single person who hasn’t sadly been touched by the disease in some way.
“There is a close personal link to Hywel, so this is more than just about raising as much money as possible,” she says. “There is good PR, but we must hit the targets for the money raised, it doesn’t mean anything otherwise.
“Vpress is a personable company so perhaps this matters more; the larger a business gets, the less it is able to respond.”
The ethos has taken hold in the business. Another of the sales consultants Tom Parkes has signed up to jump from an airplane to raise money for the Make a Wish foundation and is seeking sponsorship to cover the cost of a parachute.
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Howard Hunt becomes the first corporate partnership for Ambition (it started life 90 years ago as the National Association of Boys Clubs), beginning what is hoped, will be a long partnership.
At the launch in October, Deborah Lewis, head of client engagement at Howard Hunt, said: “We have a lot of opportunity within our business and believe that the skills and expertise in our team can be put to great use by working with local young people in the community.”
The programme will involve 40 people from The Hub Youth Club in Dartford. All are from disadvantaged backgrounds "with negative life experiences".
The six-week-long programme has been devised to provide training in team work, leadership skills, understanding business and putting together a CV to enhance their job prospects. "It's about providing experience and understanding of the business world and helping them get a foot in the door," says Georgina Groombridge, marketing manager at Howard Hunt.
"At the end they will each pitch a social enterprise project in a Dragons' Den style presentation and someone local will come in and judge, perhaps provide more experience."
The programme begins in April. Before then Howard Hunt staff have been engaged in raising money through all kinds of activities. The target is to reach £25,000, the cost of putting the programme together.
"It's a group wide effort which is reinforcing the company's values in supporting young people and giving them opportunities. This business has grown and this is both a way of giving something back to the community and reminding ourselves we are a family company still and reinforcing that spirit," says Groombridge.
Fund raising activities have included 19 staff overcoming an obstacle course, negotiating mud and electrified wire. Others are running s half marathon, there have been cake sales, loom band making by children of staff. And it has encouraged a couple of the employees to sign up as volunteers at the YMCA in Dartford.
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Managing director Joshua Weaver and others on the small company are in training for the Vyrnwy Bikeathon, an annual fundraising event for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, a charity funding research into blood cancers and helping those afflicted.
The company aims to raise £1,000 by participating in what is a very local event. It will also donate merchandise that can be handed out by the organiser during the event.
Weaver says: “We plan to do our best to raise as much as possible during this year’s cycle. The cause is extremely worthy and we are exciting to be taking part.”
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