Save the Chil­dren: Gaza cease­fire SMS campaign

Exhibited by
Sarah Fitzgerald O’Connor, Save the Children.
June 15, 2012
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Awareness, regular gift
Type of Charity
International relief / development
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
January, 2009

SOFII’s view

A simple yet so successful idea from Save the Children. Ruth Ruderham, who presented it at SOFII’s IWITOT rightly said that it’s an idea that anyone working for a development charity should have thought of. She then, with supreme honesty, admitted that she was one. Yes, she was working at ChristianAid in the UK at the time.

Creator / originator

Save the Children.

Summary / objectives

The primary objective was advocacy (and brand awareness/consideration). Our aim was to be seen to be putting pressure on the government, including a call to action to give people a way to help and to gather a volume of ‘petitioners’ to support our request to 10 Downing Street to call for a ceasefire. Our secondary objective was to convert these petitioners into financial supporters.


The conflict escalated on 27th December and we launched a traditional emergency fundraising appeal on 31 December. The ground invasion started on 3 January. On 5 January the decision was made to run a ‘ceasefire’ campaign. We wanted to give people a quick, easy outlet to express their concern so included an SMS text response. We had a rough plan to call anyone who responded to convert to regular giving. We ran full-colour, full-page press ads in the four main broadsheets. We received 100,000 responses over the first weekend, 10/11 January. Conversion calling was up and running by 16 January.

Special characteristics

The image was a key element, which we were able to find from inside Gaza. Also, it seemed to go viral amongst some ethnic communities and appeared on blogging sites, taking on a life of its own. Crucially, because we are independent, it was not about taking sides but about the children who were suffering in Gaza. Also we could talk credibly about the situation as we were already working among the suffering in the stricken city.

Influence / impact

In total, we received 180,000 SMS messages, which we took 10 Downing Street the next week, resulting in Gordon Brown speaking out to demand a ceasefire. Then we converted 9,000 to regular giving.


We sent an outbound SMS to all 100,000 responders to the first ads, to encourage them to forward it to a friend before our Downing Street meeting.

We ran further press ads to build the volume. We also did some testing with bounceback messages (SMS versus MMS with a financial ask and text for call-back option) and tested cash versus regular giving scripts on the phones.
The outbound SMS-ask resulted in a high opt-out rate and regular giving outperformed cash. 


Campaign ROI of 1.4.


We acquired 180,000 SMS supporters and 9,000 regular givers.


It’s an amazing example of a charity communication that inspired people to take action, convertd that action into financial support and achieved actual change to save children’s lives.

SOFII’s I Wish I’d Thought Of That 2012 - No.16 Ruth Ruderham presents Save the Children