Sightsavers: Building a regular giving programme from scratch


In 2010, Sightsavers celebrated their 60th birthday. Since 1950 Sightsavers has helped millions of blind and visually impaired people in developing countries by funding optical treatments, operations, eye clinics, screening programmes and sight rehabilitation initiatives.

Sightsavers were a renowned multinational charity but needed to make their UK fundraising advertising more effective. JAA undertook a forensic audit of Sightsavers’ fundraising performance as the first step in the construction of a structured long-term DRTV Regular Giving programme. Sightsavers DRTV in 2010 was generating good ROIs at modest monthly budget levels, but from these foundations we worked in partnership with Sightsavers to transform their DRTV scale and performance.


Our DRTV programme was shaped by three principles:

(1)     Testing

We took a ground-up approach to generating growth, based on an unwavering commitment to testing, learning, refining and optimising at scale. JAA conducted rigorous DRTV testing and measurement across multiple permutations of channel groups, sales houses, dayparts, days of week, seasons, creative executions and CTA (calls-to-action). Our buying teams dovetailed with our planners by negotiating CPTs to their lowest-ever levels. The net result was an always-on Sightsavers DRTV presence and increased share-of-voice which generated significant increases in response rates, conversions and ROI.

(2)     Teamwork

Strong client and interagency relationships have been pivotal. JAA and Sightsavers work as business partners with a shared commitment to openness, constant communication and agile working. JAA work on many clients with DTV, Sightsavers’ creative agency, so we are accustomed to collaborating with them. We have also cultivated close links with Angel, the call-handling specialists, a relationship crucial for achieving the best standards in reporting and analysis.

(3)   Tenacity

We have a shared determination to unearth new insights and fresh sources of value outside ‘business as usual’ channels. This has led to a number of productive initiatives, such as a long-term share-of-voice analysis to inform budget setting and a project to identify unexploited audiences by dissecting demographic viewing patterns in new ways.


By the first quarter of 2020, Sightsavers RG DRTV programme was running on a scale we could not have foreseen ten years ago. Ongoing monthly RG DRTV investment had quadrupled vs program launch budgets, and had increased year-on-year by +20%, with airtime running across both daytime and peak, and a rotation of seven creative executions combining 40”, 60” and 90” timelengths.

Having switched our principal target to RG CPA, latest results have seen us attain record low a CPA and Year One ROI more than double 2010 levels. Sightsavers’ results are not only the most efficient they have ever been, but are at the highest ever volume - a combination rarely seen in DRTV.

Recent months have brought the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19. Our response has been to work even more closely with Sightsavers to adapt their activity to these unique circumstances via:

  • flexible budget upweights
  • short-term negotiation of bespoke spot buys for testing across Channel 4
  • continuous updates and adjustments to fast-changing market conditions

The outcome has been the highest donor levels achieved in the history in the program.


Sightsavers: Building a Regular Giving Programme from Scratch

Sightsavers were a renowned multinational charity but needed to make their UK fundraising advertising more effective. JAA structured a long-term Direct Response TV Regular Giving programme that has delivered year on year.

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John Ayling & Associates