For four years, the Syrian people had been fleeing war. Mums, dads, daughters, sons and grandparents had been dispossessed of their land, creating a humanitarian crisis that saw 12.2 million people in desperate need of aid.
(Image credit: Jo Currie)
The problem, however, was that the war had gone on for so long that public and political interest had waned. Journalists had also shifted their attention to terrorism, meaning that the column inches were increasingly dedicated to the fight against ISIS. In the process, the struggles of the Syrian people were being left out of the public narrative and there was a real risk that they would be forgotten.
Against this bleak backdrop, humanitarian agencies like World Vision were struggling to raise the necessary funds from a Kiwi public that had become disengaged from the cause. And this was further exacerbated because the traditional methods of fund raising—neighbourhood marketing, on-street appeals and mall activations— were no longer as effective as they once were and there was an overall downward trend in financial contributions to charitable organisations, particularly those focused on international causes.
The team at World Vision understood that it would have to transform its approach if it was to re-engage with Kiwis and convince them that this was a cause worth contributing to.
In an effort to achieve this objective, World Vision worked with the New Zealand Herald to develop the ‘Forgotten Millions’, a content-led campaign fronted by broadcaster and World Vision ambassador Rachel Smalley.
The campaign ran in The Herald in print and online, featuring photo galleries, films, opinion pieces, letters from refugees, first-person accounts and poignant reports from Smalley.
The content covered personal stories of refugees living across Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan and Jordan, giving readers a look at the tragedy through a Kiwi lens.
The reach of the campaign was extended beyond the Herald publications through online and outdoor advertising, and this helped drive traffic to the content.
Additionally, World Vision also partnered with the Gow Langsford Gallery to arrange an art auction of works by New Zealand artists Dick Frizzell (who also designed the Forgotten Millions logo), Max Gimblett, John Pule, Sara Hughes and Reuben Patterson.
The auction alone raised $29,000 for World Vision, but this was only a small portion of the total amount raised by the campaign.
Over the three-week running period, readers could donate to the campaign through print coupons, online and over the phone—and it wasn’t long before the donations started streaming in.
World Vision initially set a relatively modest target of raising $75,000, and the Herald hoped for $100,000. The most optimistic estimates put the figure at around $150,000.
— Rachel Smalley (@Rachel_Smalley) March 18, 2015
By the time the campaign closed, it had raised $439,686, completely dwarfing any of the speculated amounts.
Even more impressive was that half of the donors were new to World Vision. But, perhaps the most important achievement of the campaign was that it not only reminded the public about the human side of war but also made the point that the Syrian people were not forgotten.
“The judges were impressed with the courage shown in maintaining the long-term strategic focus of this campaign in the face of short-term emergency demands … Engagement of new donars stood out as a major acheivement.”
MBM, NZ Herald
Farmers Trading Company and New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation (Breast Cancer Month; New Zealand Aids Foundation (National HIV Testing Month); NZ Automobile Association (AA membership).