Case study: Fundraising for Women's Refuge

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Women's Refuge

The problem 

Every night in New Zealand, over 160 women and children are too afraid to stay at home because of family violence. So how do we make sure they all have a safe place to stay each and every night? Find out how we helped Women’s Refuge develop a radical new approach to fundraising.

How do we ensure Women's Refuge is heard above all the charity noise?

Start with good data

To better understand the opportunities and issues facing Women’s Refuge, we tracked all of their donations over the last five years and overlaid them with Segmomento data from Dot Loves Data.

This showed that the Women's Refuge database had become stagnant as a result of not attracting new donors from their previous fundraising campaigns. We learned that the givers were becoming fewer, but were still generous.

Fundraising stagnation due to apathy confirmed to us that we needed to be bold and unexpected in order to be noticed again and reach a wider audience.

That meant doing the opposite of the ‘normal’ charity approach. So, we set out to be positive and upbeat despite the harrowing message we were delivering.


Social media engagement
Supporters are fewer in number — but are still vocal and engaged.

Sentiment apathy
DOT's Ethel tool found that the past 5 years had an emergence of apathy across the general population, confirming a declining pool of donors.

Family Violence increasing
Women's Refuge data showed the problem of family violence was worsening.

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What if, instead of acting like a charity, Women’s Refuge begun to behave more like an accommodation provider?

Add smart creative

Gift a room to someone you’ll never meet, in a place you’ll hopefully never visit. It’s the best stay we hope you never have. These words formed the foundation for our creative strategy.

Instead of simply asking New Zealanders to give money, we started asking them to ‘Gift a Safe Night’ by booking a room on behalf of women and children in need. This change in approach introduced vital context. New Zealanders now know exactly how their money is being used – every $20 provides a room for one night for a woman and her children.

This campaign also means that Women’s Refuge have started acting more like an accommodation provider. On the digital platform we created, New Zealanders have the ability to book an escape for those who can’t arrange one for themselves. For just $20, you can gift a Safe Night anywhere in New Zealand for someone who really needs it.

To promote the Gift A Safe Night accommodation campaign and raise the profile of Women's Refuge, we recruited Kiwi actress Miranda Harcourt. As you'll see below, this approach has had a huge impact.

“I was shocked to learn that New Zealand has the highest rates of family violence in the developed world so, of course I was happy to lend a hand. Women’s Refuge needs every penny and all the support we can give." — Miranda Harcourt


A special appeal

During the months of March to May 2020 while the country isolated under lock-down, Women’s Refuge experienced a 62% increase in call volume. We knew we needed to act quickly to adapt to the uncertain demands of the time and continue to help Women’s Refuge support at risk women and children.

With Miranda onboard we were able to communicate the urgent need of support via video, reminding viewers that while they watched at home with their loved ones, many women and children in New Zealand were isolating in unsafe bubbles.

Social media influencers used the Safe Night platform to spark an organic peer challenge. Champions of the challenge engaged in positive physical activity, purchased a Safe Night, and then nominated five friends to do the same while sharing the activity on their personal social channels.

"When we approached EightyOne, we were in desperate need of something fresh and outside the box. We were not disappointed."

Change the world

Women's Refuge challenged us to measure everything.

With a falling donation base, we needed to produce a knock-out campaign to help get more resources to the Refuge at a time when they really need it.

How did we do?

As at 13th July 2020, the Safe Night campaign has exceeded the annual fundraising target by a 32% increase.

Our advertising campaign also performed very well both in terms of volume of impressions / clicks and cost effectiveness. We exceeded the industry benchmark for Native across all metrics (CPM, CPC & CTR), and achieved 1,218,553 social media impressions for the seven week Summer Appeal campaign.

"When we approached EightyOne, we were in desperate need of something fresh and outside the box. We were not disappointed." – Susan Barker, Head of Fundraising & Communications, Women's Refuge.



Consume a sample of some fast paced creative eye candy here.