For several weeks in 2014 and 2015, IKEA Foundation in partnership with UNHCR ran the Brighter Lives for Refugees (BLFR) campaign, an innovative fundraising initiative through which for every LED bulb or lamp sold in IKEA stores IKEA Foundation donated €1 to UNHCR. The campaign raised a total of €30.8 million, which has been used to improve education and access to renewable energy in refugee camps in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Sudan and Jordan.
The campaign disseminated photos and videos containing highly emotive content through a range of communication channels: signs in IKEA stores, advertisements in the company’s catalogue and posts on Facebook and Youtube. Social media made it possible to reach a large audience in a cost-effective way while at the same time enabling interactivity. Most of the videos are in the form of a story which graphically illustrates life without access to energy while simultaneously connecting with the audience through references to common everyday activities such studying, sharing a meal, socialising or accessing water. This emotive story-telling touched people’s hearts and aroused great empathy with those caught up in humanitarian crises.
The campaign was extremely successful not only in terms of fundraising but also in terms of increasing public awareness of the issue. Furthermore, between 2014 and 2018, thanks to the funds raised, a number of energy and education projects with very positive social and environmental impacts were implemented. The following poster shows some of the impact-related KPIs achieved:
For example, in Azraq (Jordan) the initiative funded the first solar plant constructed to power a refugee camp. This project currently provides renewable energy to 5,000 shelters and it has reduced CO2 emissions by 2,370 tons a year. It saves UNHCR an estimated £1.15 million annually and these savings mean that funds are now available to improve sanitation and shelters.
The success of the campaign can be attributed to a number of factors:
- The partnership with UNHCR increased the visibility and credibility of the campaign.
- Its ultimate purpose was to help vulnerable people mentioned in the news on a daily basis.
- The name of the campaign made its purpose very clear.
- It targeted IKEA customers, who represent a wide audience.
- It presented a vision of hope which was solution-oriented (language of possibility).
- It allowed IKEA customers and employees to participate and feel part of the solution.
- The achievements of stakeholders were acknowledged and publicised.
Have you heard of this campaign? If you had known about it, would you have gone to IKEA to buy an LED bulb or made a direct donation to UNHCR?: https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/this-is-ikea/people-planet/people-communities/good-cause-campaigns/brighter-lives-for-refugees/
If you are interested in innovative fundraising campaigns, you might like to know about MSF’s ‘medicine for someone else’s pain’ campaign too: http://sofii.org/case-study/medicos-sin-fronteras-medicine-for-someone-elses-pain