The average response rate to a charity's cold mail shot is around 1%. When Mark Phillips did a campaign for the YMCA, it soared to 50%. Which is why, since setting up his own media agency Bluefrog, he has been in huge demand by charities including Friends of the Earth, Action Aid and Care International.
The 37-year-old always had a gift for parting people from their money. As a teenager, he made pounds 300 a week selling second-hand bags in Covent Garden. At college, he organised popular club nights. 'I discovered a talent for promotions. I could put myself inside the head of my customers,' he says. Add a passionate interest in the Third World and a career in fundraising was the natural choice.
By 1997, he had worked his way up to the YMCA board but he hated it. 'I was 20 years younger than the other directors. I wanted to be with the team doing the job, not talking about who got company cars,' he says. So, bolstered by industry admiration for his work and a pounds 30,000 donation from his mum, he quit to go it alone.
Three years on, Bluefrog employs 16 people. It is branching out into web-site development for Action Aid, Care International and the Law Society Gazette. It is also in talks with two of the big auction houses with a view to setting up a lifestyle-type auction site, and is the recommended web-site developer for users of a new site, ideas-e, which registers and sells domain names.