"Promoting the science of aerospace medicine"

13th of March 2013

How Orbis turned an old airplane into increased donations

Orbis, a charity which operates an eye surgery that travels from country to country in an aircraft, bucked the trend of decreasing charitable donations in Hong Kong by turning a decommissioned airplane into donation mementos. 


Growth in charitable donations in Hong Kong has been declining in recent years. There was a 9 per cent drop in donations between 2011 and 2012, with growth now at only 14 per cent. Hong Kong has fallen eight places in the 2012 World Giving's Rankings (from 11th place to 19th).


Orbis had two objectives in 2012. It needed to decommission its old DC-10 aircraft and fund a new flying surgery, requiring considerable funds. In addition, the charity needed to sustain, if not exceed, its record-level donations of HK$1.8 million (US$232,000) for the second year.


Through Ogilvy & Mather Advertising Hong Kong, the charity ran a campaign entitled 'Old parts for new'.*

The Orbis aircraft-surgery is by definition at the heart of the charity's work. For six years, the charity had sold branded pins (badges) as its main fundraising mechanism. Ogilvy & Mather took scrap parts from the DC-10's fuselage, doors, seats and life jackets, and transformed them into Orbis pins. Each pin had its own distinctive characteristics-scratches, marks and dents-making the pins imminently collectable. Pins were sold on the street and through other channels, and sales were supported by print advertising in the MTR system.


In 16 weeks, the campaign generated private donations of US$374,000, an all-time high for the organisation and an increase of 55 per cent over 2011. The campaign raised $838,000 when donations from corporate bodies were included. The campaign also generated $180,000 worth of media coverage. The money raised through the campaign was enough to fund sight-saving surgeries for 9,600 people.