Case Study — Innovative social media campaign for the RNLI

Helping the RNLI widen their support base

At a

We created a campaign that helped promote RNLI to a new, younger audience by asking people to ‘donate’ their Facebook and Twitter accounts to RNLI for 6 weeks.

The RNLI’s Twitter and Facebook gained 7k more followers – 800% above their usual growth.

What happened

people signed up
more followers on Twitter and Facebook
received the RNLI rescue stories
Project Details
Social campaign
Video content
Front end responsive dev
Experience design
Platform / API integration
Back end platform dev
Launch Date
August 2013

The Challenge

The RNLI rely almost entirely on donations to reach their £140m yearly running costs. With an ageing support base – generally located in close proximity to the coast – they recognised the need to reach a wider, more varied, audience.

As land-locked Londoners we were instantly struck by the RNLI’s rich and constant stream of real life heroic stories. It soon became clear that these should form the main currency of our campaign. It was simple: the more that people could actually see the amazing work taking place, the more likely they were to feel a connection and support the charity.

Our Approach

We realised early on in our research process that young people don't have much money to donate, but they do have the currency of their social profile, and therefore the idea of people donating their Facebook and Twitter posts to mass-share these rescue stories soon began to take shape.

Initially this raised some potential privacy concerns – so we decided to use ourselves as guinea pigs. A prototype system was created and set up just in time for the launch of our new Global Rich List site. Brave, intrepid Pokers joined up and a single tweet was sent out from all accounts simultaneously. It worked!  Media coverage was gained, more people were exposed to our news and everyone was easily disconnected from the service without any mishaps when we were done.


With a proven concept #SaveWave was ready to be fine-tuned. This is how it worked: supporters joined up with Facebook or Twitter. Then, twice a week throughout our six-week campaign, the most engaging new rescue stories were automatically sent out from their account. Everyone who joined sent these stories out simultaneously to create a wave of exposure for the RNLI.

These rescues were featured on the #SaveWave site alongside a visualisation that showed the reach of each ‘wave’. As the campaign progressed – and our user base grew – these stories were seen by an ever wider audience, many of whom were previously unaware of the life-saving work carried out by the RNLI’s unpaid volunteers on a daily basis.


Donating a Twitter or Facebook post is a simple action, but it helped to give the RNLI a much needed voice. In time the hope is that these messages and posts will return to the RNLI as dozens of new volunteers, hundreds of new donors and thousands of supporters. Ensuring that their lifesavers have everything they need and deserve, from boots to boats for years to come.


  • 6k people signed up
  • 7k more followers on Twitter and Facebook
  • 1.8m received the RNLI rescue stories


  • Creative Review Annual
    Winner 'August Campaign'
  • BIMA Awards
    Highly Commended 'Public Life'
  • Brand Republic Digital Awards
    Shortlist 'Not for Profit & Public Service'
  • BIMA Awards
    Shortlist 'Innovation'