Whisper it loud: the record was broken

Case study: how Save the Children UK and TreeHouse raised £100,000 with the world's longest game of Chinese whispers.

Chinese whispers fundraising event
Chinese whispers fundraising event

Organisations: Save the Children UK, TreeHouse
Campaign: World's Longest Game of Chinese Whispers
Agency: BI: The Business Improvement Company

Save the Children UK and autism education charity TreeHouse were joint beneficiaries of this event, hosted by BI.


This record-breaking Chinese whispers attempt, held in Arsenal Football Club's Emirates Stadium on 11 July, lasted two hours and four minutes and involved 1,330 children aged between seven and 11. The children formed a huge circle and the whisper began as "together we will make a world of difference". After 200 children it had become "we're breaking a record", and by the time it reached the last child it had changed to "haaaaa".

It beat the existing record of just under two hours with 1,083 people. In the past two years, there have been seven unsuccessful attempts to break the record.


A fundraising target of £100,000 was set. Children were sponsored to take part in the whisper and corporate sponsorship packages were sold.

The charities' staff, schools and corporate partners took part in fundraising activities leading up to the event, including an online auction, strawberries and cream sales at Wimbledon, car boot sales and a night at the races. A staff member at BI also wrote and published a book, Whisper and the Birthday Party, which was illustrated by some of the children attending the event.


The target was reached and proceeds were divided equally between Save the Children and TreeHouse. BI hosted the event without charge, so neither charity had any overheads. Tanya Steele, director of supporter relations and fundraising at Save the Children, described the day as an "amazing fundraising event".

She added: "Through this world record-breaking event, children from the UK helped to save children's lives around the world and showed that it's simple to save a life."

TreeHouse will use the money raised for its National Centre for Autism Education in north London. Save the Children will use its half as part of a global campaing to stop 10 million children a year from dying before their fifth birthdays.

EXPERT VIEW - Chris Arnold is strategic and creative director of Symple

This fundraising idea is simply brilliant. I remember Chinese whispers as a highlight of the English lessons at school. Our teacher once told us a famous story from the First World War when "send reinforcements, we're going to advance" became "send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance".

This is a fundraising idea that engages people. It's imaginative and, best of all, it's a group event where everyone works together, so it has a purpose beyond simply raising money.

Using the Arsenal FC stadium was a great idea, especially as it is close to Crouch End, where they are building the new TreeHouse school in the former Hornsey College of Art. And I love the idea of getting the kids to illustrate a book related to the event. It's also great to see two charities working together.

This is one of the best ideas I've heard about for a long while. Charities need to be more original these days to engage people. Runs, swims and the rest are now standard fare. What people want are more exciting, new and imaginative ideas. After all, it's ideas that make a difference in the world.

Creativity: 5

Delivery: 5


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