WORKSHOP: Case Study - ChildLine tops £1.3m from BT survey

Annie Kelly

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Background: ChildLine, the helpline for children and young people, receives around 4,000 calls every day. But a lack of funds means that only 1,800 of them can be answered and the charity has found that many children have to dial several times before they get through to a counsellor.

BT has supported ChildLine since it was founded in 1986 and has the long-term aim of ensuring that every call to the helpline is answered.

Aims: The charity wanted to increase public awareness of the problem it has coping with the volume of calls to its helpline. It also wanted to tackle the wider problem of communication breakdown between adults and children and the problems faced when young people's voices are ignored.

How it worked: ChildLine and BT launched a joint campaign titled "Am I Listening?" in April 2002, which aimed to raise funds to support the helpline and encourage adults to listen to young people.

As part of the campaign, a national research project was commissioned into whether children feel they are being heard. Published in May 2002, the report found that only 47 per cent of children felt that their problems were being listened to.

BT also ran its largest-ever customer mail survey, which asked its 19 million customers what improvements they would like to see in the company's services. It promised to donate £1 to ChildLine for every customer survey completed and returned between April and December 2002.

An email marketing campaign was also sent out to ChildLine's database of supporters, encouraging people to complete the customer survey online and trigger additional donations.

The charity and BT also organised an event to set a Guinness Record for the world's longest whisper, where popstars S-Club passed a whispered message on to 365 children.

As the campaign rolled out across the UK, a series of promotional stunts and press photo calls were arranged to promote the programme and flag up significant fundraising milestones.

Results: More than 1.36 million customers responded to the survey, making it the largest-ever response to a direct mail survey of this kind in the UK. Subsequent research by BT found that 22 per cent of respondents said that the association with ChildLine was the strongest influence in persuading them to return the survey. As a result £1.36 million was donated to the charity.

"This represents the largest single donation we have ever given a charity in our history," said Beth Courtier, head of charity programmes at BT.

"The survey has raised vital funds and raised the profile of the charity. The initiative received a fantastic response."

The campaign also generated significant media coverage across national TV, radio and newspapers and in the regional press.

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