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£1.2m in online donations.

Supporting the frontline of humanitarian care.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), otherwise known as Doctors Without Borders, provide medical aid where it’s needed most. Its expert medical teams act fast to save people's lives in conflict zones, natural disasters and epidemics.

The MSF UK digital team partnered with Crafted to enhance its digital strategy. Initially focusing on delivering a collaborative campaign across all partner agencies and internal teams and in doing so, set a new benchmark for the value of digital marketing and collaboration for MSF.

The first opportunity for this new way of working came at a crucial time for MSF’s fundraising (November to January). The lead up to the Christmas period was a saturated media landscape with elections and Brexit dominating the news agenda. We needed to cut through this in order to reach potential donors with a positive message. The focus was to drive awareness and donations for MSF’s Emergency team (E-team).

When disasters hit, it’s the E-Team who are sent in the first 12-72 hours to assess the needs and start providing vital medical care. The E-team were the first team on the ground during the West Africa Ebola epidemic. More recently, during the COVID-19 outbreak, MSF has supported 40 countries across five continents, with the E-team being deployed in many of those.

Campaign KPIs:

  • Increase awareness of MSF and the work they do
  • Direct campaign channel donations target: £75,000
  • Beat 2018’s total online donations
  • 5% Y-o-Y increase in new Direct Debit sign ups
  • 10% Y-o-Y increase in donations from new users
  • Develop a new collaborative way of working

What we did:

We connected donors to the action on MSF’s frontline.

The campaign showcased the frontline of MSF’s emergency response, which is deployed and often in full swing within 72 hours. This campaign brought that 72-hour period to life. Using five time-based sequential stories (00h, 24h, 36h, 48h, 72), the audience could truly understand what happens during deployment. The digital activity ran across YouTube, Display, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Deezer, and Paid Search.

Crafted image

Our strategy was to integrate all chosen digital channels and with wider marketing activity including TV, Radio, Press, Direct Mail and Podcast advertising. This was devised to show a consistent message and take individuals along a journey regardless of what channel they were on.

‘Collaboration’ is often overused in our industry, but for MSF UK’s marketing team, this campaign was as much about delivering a new, collaborative working approach as it was about the overall fundraising. From the initial design-sprint to the ongoing instant chat groups, this campaign was delivered by a single team; regardless of what their email signatures may have said.

The complex setup connected the digital channels using 1st party audiences, cross-platform remarketing lists, click trackers, and impressions beacons, all managed via Google Marketing Platform and Facebook Ad Manager.

Audiences created from all channels were used to plot the possible journey for the user. For example, if a user’s first interaction with the campaign was with the display prospecting activity, they would be placed into a list to also be targeted with the YouTube video mini-series, Facebook video mini-series, and audio campaign.

Crafted screen shot

If a user didn’t complete a donation, they would be shown an ‘abandoned basket’ style creative. When a user donated, they would instantly be removed from the campaign and placed on an email and direct mail delivered ‘thank you’ journey.

We also worked with M.I Media to extend the Channel 4 TV general election takeover (December 12th) across digital, targeting all Channel 4 audiences across social and display ads.

Digital normally generates 10% of overall Christmas donations. This Christmas, it contributed 22% of all donations, showcasing the power of search, display, and social advertising.

The results speak for themselves, helping MSF UK raise £6.6m in December alone, but I firmly believe they would not have been possible if Crafted and our partner agencies had not bought in to this new way of working. It meant we delivered a campaign which was ambitious, creative, positive and razor sharp in its execution. It just so happened that we also had a lot of fun and learned loads.

Lee Butler, Médecins Sans Frontières
The results.
Increasing awareness.
2.9 million video views, 69 million impressions and 112,000 clicks
Direct donations.
265% above target delivering over £274,000
Surpassing targets.
21% increase in online donations year-on-year reaching £1.2million
Long-term impact.
10% increase in direct debit sign-ups
Reaching new audiences.
74% increase in donations from new users