Case Studies – We can be heroes

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Case study

We can be heroes! Enfield boosted its volunteer task force by sharing real-life recruits’ stories – and nudging interested clickers. Posted 28 March 2019

Running a campaign based on real-life stories is not a new idea. It’s well known that when people see others who fit their profile advocating something, they are more likely to pay attention. But grabbing this initial awareness is only part of getting the job done.

When CAN teamed up with the London Borough of Enfield for the ‘Enfield Heroes’ campaign to recruit local volunteers, it was a combination of digital targeting and ‘nudging’ to locate the right audience, coupled with a strong commitment to put people in touch with opportunities, that reaped rewards.

The campaign

In 2015, Enfield Council was looking to encourage more diversity in the range of residents willing to consider volunteering. The borough has always been keen to promote a sense of community and belonging.

Research found that pensioners and young people tended to have the most time and inclination to become volunteers. But there were plenty of opportunities for locals who had less time to spare to get involved – everything from mentoring young people to maintaining wild flower gardens – and the council needed to reach out to these people too.

The borough recognised that volunteering can be fulfilling as well as helping to build community bonds. Volunteers learn new skills, improving their self-confidence and job prospects. Enfield even has the ‘100 Hours Volunteering Scheme’ where members register their hours and are invited to an awards reception if they reach the magic 100 a year.

For the Enfield Heroes campaign, the council marketing and communications team created a series of stories based around a diverse set of its most prolific volunteers. These were promoted via online and social media ads with different messages to appeal to different lifestyles.

Among the heroes featured were a volunteer at a boxing club for young people, another for a disability action group, one from a community library and both a man of 80-years-plus and a teenager who volunteered for scout groups.

Initial messages ranged from the modest ‘Got a few spare hours?’ to ‘Transform a life’. When clicked on, these digital adverts took people through to the heroes’ stories on Enfield’s website and YouTube.

Once people had shown an interest, they were served a follow-up advert – ‘You have read about Enfield Heroes. Now become one!’ – to nudge them into signing up as a volunteer, either via the borough website or Enfield opportunities posted on the UK’s national volunteering database

The results

  • The initial digital campaign in 2016 saw more than 200,000 residents reached and 3,718 click-throughs to the ‘Enfield Heroes’ stories.
  • Over 2,100 residents were successfully nudged to sign up for local opportunities promoted via
  • Enfield Council recorded 266 new volunteer sign-ups.
  • The best response was for the ‘Got a few spare hours?’ message.
  • An extra 32,000 residents saw the follow-up campaign on youth volunteering – with jobseekers and college and university students interacting strongest.
  • An extra 62,000 saw a further campaign on library volunteering – with the strongest response for an ‘Improve your job prospects’ message.
  • These two follow-up campaigns generated another 1,879 clicks.
  • The click-through rate steadily increased over the course of the three campaigns as more useful insight meant better targeting – ending up around four times the industry standard.

Enfield Council Marketing Officer, Allan Watson, said: “Harnessing our residents’ interest in volunteering for council and community projects is a crucial part of continuing to build a sense of community in Enfield.

“Using digital advertising technology helped us reach 80% of the target audience with a relatively tight budget. Interaction data showed very healthy rates of engagement which were backed up by reports of offline interactions from our volunteering team.”

Five lessons learnt: digital volunteering campaigns

  1. They need to be a two-parter: your initial creatives and advertising activity identifying who might consider volunteering through who clicks on them; your ‘part two’ retargeting these with extra messages to nudge them into action.
  2. People considering volunteering tend to respond to messages that either promise improvement in skills and job prospects or appeal to those with limited spare time.
  3. Target jobseekers, college students and 25-34-year-olds: the most responsive groups.
  4. New parents and empty nesters are harder to reach but generate very strong click-through rates: 5.56% and 5.26% respectively compared to a general CTR of around 0.4%.
  5. Back up your campaign with strong back-room support like Enfield Council does. The borough has clear signposting on its website to a whole array of volunteering opportunities and relevant, up-to-date contact information.

CAN we help?

CAN’s Citizen Reach™  has been giving councils a value-for-money way to get their messages seen over the past four years and more than 150 digital campaigns. The programmatic advertising used is the smartest way to spend your communications budget as you can target the right people and get meaningful, measurable outcomes.

We now offer the option of ‘share to save’ Citizen Reach™ for some of the most popular campaigns councils run during the year. This helps you get better results for your budget through collective buying.

Find out more about share to save  or contact CAN now for more information.