Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Plan UK joins forces with The Guardian

Helen Barrett

Plan UK is a development organisation that funds community projects in Asia, central and south America and Africa that particularly benefit children and build a community's capacity to determine its own future. The charity was keen to demonstrate the success of its child-sponsorship programmes, and the way they encourage children in poorer countries to participate in their own development.


Plan produced the 16-page colour supplement Look and Learn in partnership with The Guardian on 5 July last year to coincide with the Make Poverty History campaign and the G8 summit. The aim was to highlight the impact of poverty on the lives of children in some of the world's poorest countries, and to demonstrate how the charity's work changes lives.


Each Plan UK sponsor gives a minimum of £144 a year and stays with Plan for more than 10 years on average. The charity aimed to recruit 250 new donors from Look and Learn, asking them to commit themselves to sponsoring a child in a developing country. The long-term aim was to raise significant funds over 10 years from the new sponsors.

The Guardian's editorial team worked with Plan to write the supplement, with journalists visiting development projects. The supplement focused on children in Africa and illustrated the impact of poverty on them and what could be done to help in the long term. Advertisements ran in the paper two weeks before the supplement, backed by an online campaign on the Guardian Unlimited website. The charity then targeted the newspaper's readers by distributing the supplement with all copies of the newspaper across the UK.


Look and Learn recruited its target number of new sponsors within a week, and more than 500 new supporters signed up to receive the charity's e-newsletter. Each sponsor has committed to a minimum donation of £12 per month. Sharon Goulds, the charity's head of communications, said: "We wanted to do it when it captured people's feelings about Africa and their desire to be involved in some way. It was a great opportunity to work with The Guardian to highlight children's capacity to improve their own lives."

EXPERT VIEW - Steve Stretton, creative partner, archibald ingall stretton.

Last year's Make Poverty History campaign was an unprecedented opportunity to assist development in the world's poorest regions. For Plan, the synergy with its cause was clear, and the timing of this Guardian-partnered effort made sense - but it also presented difficulties.

One problem for Plan is achieving 'standout'. Its cause is broad and aspects of it are similar to the likes of Oxfam. The supplement at this campaign's heart provides a broad canvas for explaining Plan's role, and the G8 summit also meant its issues were nailed firmly to the top of the news agenda.

But the risk of Plan getting lost among other causes' activity was equally high - and the supplement itself isn't a massive help. The cover, although beautifully shot, is the kind of image we've seen many times before. It could be for one of many charities.

Inside is better: the case studies are engaging and the space allows exploration of the full range of Plan's work. The Guardian's readership, although perfect for Plan, is also bang-on for many other charities.

The online work supporting the supplement is simple, albeit a little forgettable. The results, however, are strong.

Creativity: 3

Delivery: 4


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