Parkinson’s UK: the Dave the Worm campaign

Exhibited by
January 06, 2013
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Individuals, regular gift
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
November, 2012

SOFII’s view

Most fundraisers would agree that sponsorship is the best fundraising proposition. Those organisations able to offer it are always very successful. Donors can sponsor a child, a dog, a room, even a cockroach. Now thanks to Parkinson’s UK donors can sponsor a worm. Read on to find out all about Dave the Worm and why he is so important to research into Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s UK and Bluefrog.

Name of exhibitor

Parkinson’s UK and Bluefrog.

Meet Dave the Worm, he is a c. elegans worm who has just been voted ‘Worm of the Year’ because of his tireless work to help find a cure for Parkinson’s. C. elegans worms like Dave happen to have eight nerve cells that are almost identical to those found in the human brain, by studying them researchers hope to develop a cure for Parkinson’s.

Dave the Worm (DTW) is a fun and witty character that is enabling Parkinson’s UK to compete in a crowded marketplace by presenting research to donors in an engaging way and giving them a unique opportunity to regularly support new and innovative research.

Banner ads, keywords and DTW Facebook and Twitter pages all help to find donors and direct them to the DTW microsite where they can find out more about Dave and become a DTW sponsor by giving a regular gift of £5 a month.


Parkinson’s UK have traditionally found it difficult to recruit new committed givers from outside the core base of people who have Parkinson’s and those who are very closely related to them. They wanted to develop a vehicle that they could use to inspire new audiences and offer them an engaging way to connect with Parkinson’s.

DTW is a charming character that is breaking down the science behind the research and showing donors the impact their money is having and how it is helping to find a cure for Parkinson’s. 

Special characteristics

DTW isn’t just a committed giving product, he’s a friend that people can turn to for support and advice.

People who choose to become a DTW sponsor and give £5 a month to help fund research are sent a welcome pack that tells them all about the work they are helping to support and the difference they are making. Sponsors are also sent Dave-inspired magnets and postcards that allow them to promote Dave to their friends and family.

Donors are then sent regular feedback emails keeping them engaged with the DTW product, which allows Dave to work as a method for retention as well as acquisition.

Dave is a highly entertaining character with his own Facebook and Twitter page that allow him to talk to his followers on a daily basis. The aim is to create a dynamic and active online community of Dave supporters who all share one goal: to find a cure for Parkinson’s.

Influence / impact

After only having launched in November 2012, Dave has set off to a flying start with over 300 likes on Facebook and close to 170 followers on Twitter.

Dave is proving particularly engaging on Facebook with people regularly liking and sharing his posts. Comments, such as those detailed below, show that Dave is giving hope to people who have had first hand experience of Parkinson’s, helping them feel that they are making a difference in the search for a cure.

On Monday 17 December 2012, Dave asked his followers to finish the following sentence – ‘I love Dave the Worm because …’ The responses show the positive connotations that people are already associating with Dave.

‘He could make a huge difference to my mum’s life.’
‘He is very cute! But also because he is doing something really important.’
‘He’s only tiny but could make a big difference.’


Early days, but it is clear to see that even in these early stages DTW is striking a chord with people, giving them an easy and tangible way to help fund research into Parkinson’s.


The Dave the Worm campaign is showing that sometimes the best way to find your target audience is by putting your message out their and offering people the information and support they need.

Dave could very well be the first fundraising worm and he’s giving people the tools they need to make a difference and help in the search for a cure. 

You can see Dave’s microsite here.

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Dave the Worm gets straight to the point: you can help find a cure for Parkinson’s.
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Introducing the idea of sponsoring a worm.
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Here the visitor to Dave’s microsite learns of the exciting discovery Dr Garner and his team have made.
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More information about Parkinson’s and what Dave needs.
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What the donor gets.
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Dave answers questions.
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The welcome pack’s envelope.
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Dave the cover boy… oops worm!
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The welcome pack really makes the donor feel part of the cause.