Kids Help Phone: buy a kid some time

Exhibited by
February 22, 2011
Medium of Communication
Event, online, press advertising
Target Audience
Individuals, corporations
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
December, 2009.

SOFII’s view

By combining simple and hard-hitting messages with different awareness-raising advertising techniques, this Canadian campaign is a great example for charities all over the world to learn from. They also show you how to make the most of your corporate matched funding and how you can use it to inspire donors and increase your success.

Creator / originator

Stephen Thomas Ltd.

Name of exhibitor

Stephen Thomas Ltd.

Summary / objectives

Kids Help Phone is a national organisation dedicated to improving the well being of Canadian children and young adults by providing them with anonymous and confidential professional counselling, referrals and information. Last year, Kids Help Phone helped Canadian children over two million times through their phone and online counselling services.

In 2009, Kids Help Phone came to Stephen Thomas (ST) with a need to increase funds raised before the end of the fiscal year.

In response, ST conceived, developed and launched a multi-media December holiday campaign. The focus was on engaging supporters online by driving prospective supporters to a microsite using email, a newspaper ad in a national newspaper, social media, and digital ads playing on digital video ‘super billboards’ across Toronto.

The theme of this campaign was ‘buy a kid some time’.

Building on the success of the 2009 campaign, a more robust campaign was launched in 2010.

The campaign was launched by a series of email series that were sent out to past donors and participants of Kids Help Phone events to persuade them to visit the ‘buy a kid some time’ campaign microsite.

Once on the microsite, potential donors were met with one of three hard-hitting, emotional videos. This showed the urgency of the need, inspired action and gave the donor a reason to donate during this holiday season – a time when emotions can run high and there are lots of children who need support contacting Kids Help Phone. Interestingly, none of the videos featured images of children.

The primary call to action was ‘buy time’. Once clicked donors were taken to a virtual mini-catalogue where they could choose how much time they wanted to give (from five to 60 minutes). There were five ‘times’ to choose from, plus a teacher’s gift and a monthly-giving option that included a promise from the national company Parmalat to match the amount raised each month.

The site was promoted through the email campaign, a national newspaper ad, a video ‘super billboard’ at a prominent sporting event and social media (including a dedicated Facebook ad campaign).

Special characteristics

The campaign consisted of an awareness component featuring a full-page ad in the country’s national daily newspaper, the Globe and Mail, as well as a ‘super billboard’. The Facebook ad campaign was also the first of its kind for this organisation.

In addition to cash gifts, a monthly-giving option was provided (which would then be matched by a sponsor).


The initial response in 2009 exceeded expectations across all measures. Specifically, this campaign:

  • Increased the number of donors by 132 per cent compared to the same time period in the previous year.
  • Acquired 11 times the number of new monthly-gifts compared to the same period the year before.
  • By 31 December 2009, the campaign had generated 2.5 times the revenue compared to the same time period in 2008.

The 2009 buy a kid some time campaign was awarded a Direct Marketing Association International Echo.

The 2010 results were just as impressive:

  • A 17 per cent increase in the number of donors over 2009.
  • A comparable number of new monthly donors.
  • Total revenue increased by 19 per cent.

Of the new initiatives:

  • Facebook visits to the Kids Help Phone website increased by over 600 per cent in December.
  • Facebook ads generated nearly 2,500 visits to


It’s a good example of how a simple but hard-hitting and compelling message can have great results and how effective corporate match funding can be used to help increase the number of monthly donors.

Other relevant information


SOFII’s I Wish I’d Thought Of That IWITOT Toronto 2013 – Alan Clayton.

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A series of emails were sent out to past donors which encouraged them to visit the ‘buy a kid some time’ campaign microsite.
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Once donors came through to the microsite, they were taken to a virtual mini-catalogue where they could choose how much time they wanted to give.