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Charity response handling where timing and accuracy are vital

For over 18 years, Woods Valldata have been proud to support the Royal British Legion (RBL) with the fulfilment of their highly complex campaign: Fields of Remembrance.

Soldier looking at tributes at RBL fields of remembrance

The RBL campaign receives over 50,000 postal supporter responses each year, plus a further 3% of responses come in online, which Woods Valldata response handles and fulfils.

This is a cash appeal from RBL as part of their Individual Giving programme in the lead up to Rememberance Sunday. Wooden Tributes are ‘planted’ on behalf of individuals in honour of those fallen in conflict. But what happens to get the Tributes from the supporters’ response to the Fields of Remembrance? Some of the team behind Woods Valldata's response handling and fulfilment services for RBL tell us more…

Some of the Woods Valldata team involved in the RBL fields of remembrance fulfilment-1

Project management from start to finish of this highly complex fulfilment campaign

“This is the single most complex campaign we handle for any of our charity partners,” explains Laura Illsley, Account Director for RBL at Woods Valldata. “This year we treated the campaign as a project with an associated project team across Woods Valldata, RBL and their agencies involved in the campaign.”

The project kicked off early 2021 with fortnightly and then weekly meetings to ensure everyone was kept in the loop of progress. Any changes to direct mailing packs, response forms or data capture and transfer could be discussed as a team so the best approach could be put forward – keeping the campaign effective and efficient.

“Woods Valldata took the initiative early in 2021 setting up a project group to keep communication channels open across all involved parties. This definitely made life easier for us. We were confident that all aspects of this intricate and sensitive campaign, reaching 170k warm supporters and over 2.1m cold plus digital reach, were covered off early on,” says Lyndsey Cave, Cash Giving Product Manager at the Royal British Legion.

Operational excellence

Fulfilment for the Fields of Remembrance campaign was Rachel Whiting’s first job when she joined Woods Valldata 18 years ago. She’s been overseeing the day-to-day processing for the campaign for the last 3 years.

"We start receiving responses anywhere from 1st September, and this continues through to the following January,” explains Rachel. “Those that we receive before the opening services at each Field, are plotted according to the message written by the supporter on the Tribute or response form, processed and then delivered to the relevant Field. For Tributes memorials which arrive after the event, the supporter is thanked for their response and any donation received is banked against the campaign.”

Allocating tributes to the correct field of remembrance and plot

Tight deadlines

Rachel runs a tight fulfilment ship. She’s constantly assessing the volumes coming in and ensuring that the campaign is resourced appropriately so that the responses are processed quickly, accurately and efficiently. A thirty-one-strong team at Woods Valldata have been involved in fulfilling the responses in 2021 across two and a half months. Remembrance Sunday (second Sunday in November) doesn’t move, and so there’s a very definite deadline for when the Tributes have to arrive at the correct Field of Remembrance. The whole team are aware of how important these Tributes are to the individuals who write them, to RBL and to the nation as a whole, as we remember our military heroes. Things have to be done right.

Handwritten dedication on the RBL cross-shaped tribute

Hand-written fulfilment

That’s why, even when we receive a response without a wooden Tribute (only a written dedication on the response form) or the wooden Tribute is broken on arrival, the Woods Valldata team write out the dedication so that the supporters’ dedication is still planted where it should be. “Covid and Brexit added an additional challenge to the campaign fulfilment this year as there was a shortage of Tributes for the original mailing,” explains Rachel. “That meant that the team had to write out more of the dedications onto the wooden Tributes than in previous years”.

“Every single year Woods Valldata go above and beyond to get the right Tributes to the right plot in the right Field of Remembrance to be planted in time for the opening service,” says James Reid, Campaign Manager at RBL. “This makes a huge difference for us and our supporters’ experience to remember their fallen friends and family.”

Hand fulfilment of a dedication to the fallen_remembrance

Getting it right is of the utmost importance

After comprehensive training and briefing, the fulfilment team at Woods Valldata read each postal and digital dedication and allocate the wooden Tribute to the appropriate field and plot. They also make sure the data is captured accurately and quickly so the supporter receives the right information in their thank you letter soon after the dedication is received.

It’s a skilled job to find the right location, with some Fields having up to 300 different plots registered! The team get familiar very quickly with the military acronyms and abbreviations to make sure the right Tribute is allocated to the right place.

Dedications on tributes ready to send to fields of remembrance

“Part of what’s great about this initiative is that the Tributes are grouped by regiment, meaning the dedications are grouped with people would likely have known one-another,” says Matt Jones, Account Manager for RBL at Woods Valldata. There are also plots associated to particular conflicts or more general dedications.

Westminster Abbey is by far the biggest Field of Remembrance, with over 400 boxes (each containing up to 180 wooden Tributes) being sent there this year. Tributes are also sent to Cardiff, Belfast, Lydiard Park (Swindon), Saltwell Park (Gateshead) and the National Memorial Arboretum plus the virtual field of remembrance.

“I’m most proud of seeing the boxes go out knowing people will appreciate that their loved ones will be remembered” says Rachel.

Matt Jones from Woods Valldata volunteering planting tributes for RBL

Fields of Remembrance

Louise Harden, Head of Operations at Woods Valldata adds, “I went to visit the field in Swindon in a previous year and joined the Remembrance Service. It’s nice to see them all laid out, walking around and thinking: ‘Our team did that – we helped make that happen’. It was a very moving experience. I’m amazingly proud of Rachel and what she and the whole team achieves each year.”

Fields of remembrance Remembrance Service

The Fields of Remembrance are open to visitors throughout November 2021. Visit https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/ways-to-give/remember-a-loved-one/fields-of-remembrance to find out more.

Book your free consultation now to find out how Woods Valldata can support your next response handling and fulfilment campaign.

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