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Volunteer to promote volunteering


Volunteer to promote volunteering


Winning an impressive three IAB Australia Award categories, the ‘Volunteer to Promote Volunteering’ campaign by Leo Burnett Melbourne for Seek Volunteer was a sleek end-to-end solution that walked the talk of its client. Like many success stories, ‘Volunteer to Promote Volunteering’ had a simple core idea that was bought to life by precise, authentic and bold execution. Despite the meagre budget, nearly every modern communication channel was used to communicate Seek Volunteer’s message to Australians. Most importantly, the act of volunteering their social media space inspired people to volunteer for the charities that needed their help. ‘Volunteer to Promote Volunteering’ was a worthy winner of the ‘Brand Awareness and Positioning’, ‘Direct Response and Lead Generation’ and the ‘Not for Profit/Public Service’ categories.


Campaign: Volunteer To Promote Volunteering

Client: Seek Volunteer

Agency: Leo Burnett Melbourne



Charities survive and thrive on something even more important than money. Volunteers are their lifeblood and without them most not-for-profit organisations would cease to function. Unfortunately, every year two-thirds of Australian charities struggle to find enough volunteers to achieve their goals.

Seek Volunteer is a not-for-profit website that enables charities to find volunteers, free of charge. So far it has had great success in signing up charities, attracting almost 80% of all online volunteer opportunities.

The problem for the charities, however, was a shortage of applicants to volunteer. The scale of the task was illustrated in a 2012 national survey, which revealed that over two-thirds of Australian charities were unable to find enough volunteers. Previous marketing campaigns had attempted to create awareness, but with very little impact. Consequently, few people knew that Seek Volunteer even existed.


Leo Burnett Melbourne was tasked to drive both awareness and volunteer signups through the website. The brief was specific. Volunteer sign-ups and monthly registrations needed to increase by 25% and awareness needed to increase by five percentage points to 22%. And all this had to be achieved with the lean not-for-profit budget of $70,000.


People choose to volunteer for many reasons and for many causes. Distinct life stage sub-segments exist, which are driven by specific motivations. For example, school leavers looking to expand their social horizons and gain career experience, or empty nesters with time on their hands who are looking for social contact and want to give something back to their community.

Leo Burnett Melbourne researched these segments, but quickly determined that to deliver the required volume of volunteers, the campaign had to go big, but with budget constraints the agency needed to be exceptionally creative. So, taking inspiration from their client’s ethos, Leo Burnett devised the strategy to promote volunteering by enlisting media owners, celebrities and individuals to volunteer their time and resources to help. The proposition was simple: ‘Seek Volunteer needs your help to find more volunteers.’

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The core idea may have been simple, but its ambition and reach was bold. The campaign would rely on the power of volunteering to open up as many communication channels as possible to promote the importance of volunteering. If successful, it would prove just how powerful volunteering is.

At its heart was the message, ‘This space was volunteered to promote volunteering’, purposefully constructed so that any media organisation, company, celebrity or individual could take it and apply it to any medium, anywhere.

An integrated online media kit was created and soon started to infiltrate the mainstream media, including supersites, transit, posters, cinemas and packaging, as well as online, press and magazine, cafés, lift and digital screens, TV, radio and news presenters.

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However, the real power of the idea came when it was put in the hands of the people. The digital tool kit let ‘social volunteers’ choose their preferred social channel and in two clicks the Seek Volunteer message was published, shared, tagged or tweeted for all to see. As more people got involved, the more visible the message became, in turn, encouraging more participation, extending the life of the idea beyond the end of the campaign period.

Over 60 media brands and over 150 organisations volunteered space, with every channel represented including Qantas, Google, Virgin, Fairfax, Channel 7, Channel 10, SBS, Nova, Fox, Gold, Smooth, NineMSN, OK!, NW, APN Outdoor, EYE and JC Decaux. Celebrities volunteered their voices and profiles through TV, radio and Twitter and the public volunteered their social media spaces, blogs, websites, tweets and their email signatures.

The message even appeared on stamps, with Australia Post volunteering the space, as well as a V8 Supercar, and some inventive individuals even used church signage, coffee cups, cushion covers and street art to spread the word.

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With 20,840 incremental registrations to date and applying an estimated conversion rate of 25%, the campaign identified 5210 new volunteers. Registration levels were sustained for months following the campaign. By December, a total of 24,211 new volunteers had registered with charities, 20,840 more than projected before the campaign was scheduled.

Visitor levels were also significantly boosted. In the month after the campaign, visitors to the site reached 79,452, a 92% increase year on year. Again, this uplift was sustained. In the six months after the start of the campaign, total visits topped 560,000, more than doubling year on year.

Awareness also rose dramatically after the campaign. Historically, it had been static at around 17%, but by October 2012 awareness had reached 34%. This result is all the more impressive considering that when the campaign began in August, awareness was below 10%, its lowest point all year.

The campaign was also successful in amplifying its media spend, with $2 million in value created from the initial investment, a return of 1:26. Furthermore, using the latest figures from the Australian Government, on average, each volunteer in Australia contributes $2900 per annum in labour value to Australian charities, so this provided a return of $197 for every dollar invested.

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