Case Study: Mencap

The charity for people with learning difficulties moves its Spellathon competition online

Mencap's Spellathon competition
Mencap's Spellathon competition

Organisation: Mencap
Campaign: Spellathon
Agency: Digital Giving

Since Mencap's Spellathon went digital, the number of schools taking part in it has rocketed from 80 to 6,250.

The charity for people with learning disabilities has been running the spelling competition for 20 years, but decided to make it online-only for the 2011/12 school year. So far, the most recent campaign has raised £26,000.

Despite the large number of sign-ups, the money raised is below the 2010/11 total of £31,251. Mencap says this is because the time spent developing the online platform delayed the start by two months, leaving less time for schools to fundraise.

Andrea Matias, event development manager, admits the campaign tried to do too much and targeted too many audiences. This year it will be focused on teachers and schools only.

"The initial investment is going to lead to a lot more fundraising," she says. "There is huge potential."

Costs will be down in the long term because the charity will not have to distribute paper packs, she says.

Mencap worked with the fundraising and creative agency Digital Giving, which designed the website and donated a £10,000 cash prize to the school that raised the most money.

The charity also benefited from the support of celebrity ambassadors, including Stephen Fry.


Rachel Beer, founding partner, Beautiful WorldRachel Beer, founding partner, Beautiful World

It's good to see a campaign made interactive through digital, but I'd question catering for such a wide range of devices in year one.

The impressive increase in schools didn't translate into income, but I'm encouraged that Mencap is focusing on key audiences, rather than ending the campaign.

It's important not to focus on technology at the expense of strategy and the fundamentals of fundraising. This has a strong idea at its core, but it could benefit from being simplified.

Expert rating

Creativity: 3
Delivery: 2
Total: 5 out of 10

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