Nonprofit & memberships

Action for Children uses cross-channel communications to help those in need

  • average email open rate

  • average click-to-open rate

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For over 150 years, Action for Children has worked to change the lives of vulnerable children in the UK. The charity ensures the voices of the most vulnerable are heard and it campaigns to bring lasting improvements to their lives. The money raised by its various fundraising activities means more children and families in crisis can get the help they need.


Due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Action for Children was forced to cancel fundraising events planned for the year. This included the charity’s flagship corporate sleepout event which has raised over £12million for children in crisis since its creation in 1998.

With events cancelled, 40% of fundraising income was at risk. The organization had to adapt and innovate to find an alternative way to raise money for those relying on its help and services. In the space of three months, Action for Children designed a brand-new mass-participation event and delivered a celebrity-led virtual sleepout.

To maximize its impact and ensure all sign-ups attended the event, Action for Children needed to create an unforgettable journey to drive fundraising efforts. To do this, it took advantage of Dotdigital’s pages and forms, marketing automation, and cross-channel functionality.


Using Dotdigital’s landing pages and forms tool, Action for Children created four forms to be embedded on its website. Three forms targeted specific audience groups capturing key information to be used in the registrant’s on-going email journey. The fourth form was created for individuals who were no longer able to attend the event, so they could drop-out and be removed from its automation programs.

The charity created a complex series of automations to act as stewards for the event. This email campaign supplied registrants with information about the event and provided fundraising ideas to keep people engaged until the day of the event.

To further engage participants, Action for Children utilized SMS as an additional communication channel. As well as using SMS to confirm event registration, it also delivered key announcements on this channel. This was the perfect channel as the event was progressing as such a speed that the organization couldn’t add all the developments to its email campaigns in enough time. SMS, with its non-existent design requirements and high read rates, meant competitions, prize incentives, and celebrity announcements were delivered quickly and efficiently.

Action for Children also supported the event with an “on the night” automation program. This included email reminders with information about broadcast details being used in tandem with SMS throughout the event. Once again, the immediate nature of SMS perfectly complimented the virtual event as text messages were scheduled to drive donations after case study videos had been presented.

About Action for Children

Action for Children is a UK children’s charity which protects and supports children and young people and provides them with practical and emotional care.

Action for Children utilized SMS as an additional communication channel. As well as using SMS to confirm event registration, it also delivered key announcements on this channel.

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As this was Action for Children’s first ever virtual event, the charity didn’t have set KPIs against which to measure the event’s success. They did, however, set an initial fundraising target of £50,000.

With 4,550 people taking part in the event, Action for Children exceeded every expectation raising £325,000 to help vulnerable children and families across the UK.

Engagement rates with the campaign exceeded the charity’s average email engagement rates and charity sector standards. Open rates averaged 40%, with a click-to-open rate of 30% and a click-through rate of 14%.

Approximately 30% of participants opted in to receiving SMS communications. The new channel achieved a click-to-delivered rate of around 25% and generated just under £500 in donations.

In a post-event feedback survey, Action for Children were delighted by the overwhelmingly positive response to its first virtual event. In particular, participants were pleased with the online experience created by the charity’s marketing team. 89% believed registration forms to be quick and easy to complete, 90% were happy with the volume of communications they received, and 95% strongly believed that emails contained relevant and helpful information.

The success of this virtual event allowed Action for Children to adapt their event portfolio to meet the needs of its supporters during the pandemic and for the future. Since running this virtual sleepout, the charity has hosted two other celebrity-led events over the festive period generating between them over £67,000.