One giant magnet. One gargantuan step for fundraising at The Christie.

It’s 7 tonnes. It’s as heavy as a bus. It’s the biggest magnet any of us will ever see. But what has a magnet got to do with cancer research at The Christie? And how did we use it to bring in a whopping ROI of 1.88 – the biggest known to a charity door drop?

The Christie is one of the UK’s leading cancer centres, based in Manchester. Alongside this phenomenal hospital runs an incredible charity, which we’ve been lucky enough to work with for five years now.

The hospital is dear to the people of the North West, who want to support their local cancer centre. But nothing could have prepared us for their support of our Proton Magnet Campaign.

In June 2016, The Christie needed to raise funds to finish its proton beam therapy research suite. There was one final piece of equipment standing in the way of its completion: a proton magnet. With the magnet in place, the hospital could maximise its research capacity – and make proton beam therapy even more effective. Essentially, this magnet could help The Christie find a way to save even more lives in the future.

We dug around, interviewed staff at The Christie, and found out that the magnet was so big, so heavy, that it needed to be hauled in by crane to complete the building. And it HAD to be completed early this year.

So, we had a deadline. We had a tangible piece of equipment. We knew how much the magnet would cost – our target. We went traditional and used all of this information to our advantage, in a stripped back, urgent-feeling pack to supporters of The Christie… and they dug deep!

Our warm proton magnet appeal was such a success that in October last year, we rolled it out as a door drop to people across Manchester and the surrounding areas. We included local nudges, referencing the generosity of people across the North West. Even we were wowed by the results.

Our door drop brought in over three times its target income and resulted in an unprecedented ROI of 1.88. That’s practically unheard of in the world of charity door drops!

We visited The Christie recently and we felt proud to see the proton beam therapy centre taking shape. The magnet has been bought and is ready to be hauled in to place, and the hospital really does have its supporters and generous local people to thank for that.

So what did we learn from all of this? Three words: Detail, relevance and traditional. By interviewing staff, we got all of the detail we needed to bring the magnet to life. By using local nudges throughout our copy, we made proton beam research relevant to our audience. And instead of going crazy with our creative (which we easily could have done – this was rich creative ground) we kept our appeal simple. We went traditional and remembered all of the lessons we’ve learned over the years at On. And it paid off!

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