The Management Centre
Call us: +44 (0)20 7978 1516
New dates: Project Management Book Now

Case Study: UNICEF UK creates a high-impact case for support

UNICEF UK works in 190 countries and runs more projects than any other organisation in the world.

They needed a case for support for a campaign that focused on a specific problem. Find out how =mc worked with staff across UNICEF to develop a draft proposition that they used extensively across their campaigning, with great results.


UNICEF is the largest organisation working for children and children’s rights, with a presence in over 190 countries worldwide. Working with governments, NGOs and local communities in long-term development and emergency situations, UNICEF strives to ensure children receive healthcare, quality education, support for HIVAIDS and protection from violence, exploitation and abuse.

UNICEF is not automatically funded by the UN and relies entirely on voluntary income to carry out its work. It is the job of its 36 independent National Committees – including the UK Committee – to raise the money to pay for a substantial proportion of the development and emergency work. The serious sums needed require serious fundraising. In 2007 UNICEF UK – already one of the most successful Committees – decided it was time to look at implementing a volunteer-driven approach to its major donor fundraising in order to significantly increase its contribution to UNICEF’s work worldwide.

=mc’s brief

As a result of this decision, UNICEF UK asked The Management Centre (=mc) to conduct a feasibility study into whether volunteer-driven major donor fundraising was right for the UK Committee, and also to look at the viability of a specificappeal.


Most successful major donor appeals have a clearly defined ‘shopping list’ of what the money is needed for. In other words, they ask for a specific amount of money in a specific time period to tackle a specific problem. As any experienced fundraisers will say, this is what underpins a strong case for support.

The challenge for UNICEF UK was – and remains – twofold. First, the sheer scale of UNICEF’s operation. No other single organisation works in as many countries, or on as many different activities. Where should the UK Committee focus their appeal? Second, as the key sponsors of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF are committed to working on all aspects of children’s rights. This includes the right to be heard and the right to be treated fairly. It was important toUNICEF UK that these rights were explicit in the appeal. But they, like =mc, also recognised that a solely ‘rights-based’ campaign would not only make it hard to engage some donors, but might actually drive others away.

Working in partnership, UNICEF UK and =mc needed to develop a broad campaign proposition that would do justice to the diversity and scope of the organisation’s work, that articulated children’s rights, and most importantly, that would inspire and challenge donors to dig deep and make a real difference to the world’s children.


Working with UK Committee staff through focus grous and an online survey, we looked for broad strands that we could use to create an appeal proposition. It was the UNICEF UK directors’ focus group that really began the process of ‘chunking’ the 54 articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child into themes such as survival, development and participation.

We also carried out competitor research to find out what other major charities and NGOs fundraising in the UK were doing to substantially increase their income.

=mc took the directors’ themes and encapsulated them into a draft appeal proposition:

“Stand up for children’s rights – our five promises to all the world’s children”

The ‘Promises’ proposition was designed to do three things:

  • create a core message that translated the notion of child rights into something more accessible – and acceptable – for current and future supporters
  • distil UNICEF’s enormous breadth of work into five memorable themes
  • provide UNICEF UK with a central concept that they could use to create a range of tailored messages for different projects and different donors


UNICEF UK have started to use ‘Promises’ extensively in their public messaging, in direct response press inserts, direct mail campaigns, and on their website. It has already successfully generated many new regular givers.

In addition to this, our recommendations have been incorporated into their more long-term strategic plans for a volunteer-driven major donor campaign and fundraising more generally.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email