The Give More campaign aimed "to raise the tide for all ships", but its concept proved to be a difficult sell to the voluntary sector because some charities viewed it as competition for their brand, according to a report by the Directory of Social Change.
The campaign, launched in April 2012 with £1m of funding from the Pears Foundation, asked people to sign a pledge on its website to give more money, time and energy to good causes.
It was originally planned to run for 12 months, but was extended until December 2013 after a slow start during which it attracted less than 15,000 pledges in the first year from a nominal target of 500,000.
But according to the DSC report, the 500,000 target was unintentional and the campaign had no set target for the number of pledges it wanted to achieve.
Trevor Pears, executive chair of the Pears Foundation and founder of the campaign, mentioned the 500,000 target in an early interview with the London Evening Standard newspaper, which the report says became "a dizzyingly high greasy pole for the campaign to notionally climb".
Pears is quoted in the report as saying: "This has never been about measurement; it is about inspiring people. I had no intention of mentioning a target at the time, and with hindsight it was a mistake. But they asked me for a target and we just didn’t know."
The DSC report, Give More Campaign Review and Evaluation, which was commissioned by the Pears Foundation and conducted by Catherine Walker, head of sector trends, evidence, analysis and metrics at the DSC, will be available on the Give More website next week.
According to the report, the campaign reached 1.7 million people through online and offline PR, "engaged with" 118,566 individuals and gained 50,143 pledges on the website by the end of December 2013.
"The PR did not, however, generate the level of interest anticipated, nor reach a tipping point for the kind of mass movement envisaged by some, and part of this may have been due to the lack of a national media partner," the report says.
One of the biggest hurdles for the campaign was forming a "coalition of the willing" in the voluntary and private sectors, the report says.
"The concept of a campaign to raise the tide for all ships proved strangely difficult to sell to the voluntary sector," it says. "There was felt to be a lack of open-mindedness, leading to some charities viewing the campaign as ‘competition’ for their brand."
Walker’s evaluation report is based on surveys and interviews with the campaign team, agencies, the steering group, advisory committee, ambassadors, partners, pledgers and external commentators.
It says that a lack of support from both the voluntary and private sectors also led to the campaign’s failure to become a mass movement.
The private sector was also difficult to engage in the campaign, the report says. One reason for this might have been a fear of compromising their corporate reputations because of the campaign’s direct message about giving, it says.
Walker, who wrote the report, said the campaign had successfully engaged with young people. "I think one of the really interesting things for me was that the campaign attracted a young audience – 32 per cent of the pledgers were under 18 and 51 per cent were under 28, which for a campaign of this kind is quite an unusual demographic," she said.