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The UN Refugee Agency appoints Blue State to catalyse digital fundraising efforts


By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

September 16, 2019 | 3 min read

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has appointed Blue State to support its digital fundraising efforts in the UK, following a competitive pitch. Wavemaker was the incumbent agency.

The UN Refugee Agency appoints Blue State to catalyse digital fundraising efforts

The UN Refugee Agency appoints Blue State to catalyse digital fundraising efforts

Specialising in online fundraising, Blue State was founded by former staffers of Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. It most notably provided digital strategy and technology services for the 2008 and 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaigns.

With only 1% of the UNHCR's fundraising coming from the UN, it is hoping to leverage Blue State's capabilities to accelerate the role that digital plays in its fundraising.

Blue State has therefore been tasked with the acquisition, longer-term projects, supporter engagement and the development of the organisation’s UK digital fundraising offering.

It will also co-design multiple creative concepts with UNHCR, testing and refining the creative approach to ensure its content is as impactful and effective as possible. Blue State will also test new ad formats as well as run media partnerships.

Initially, the agency will focus on Separated Children and Unaccompanied Minors, with search and social media content designed to reach and raise money from UK donors. The agency is now planning a digitally-led winter appeal for the organisation.

Discussing the new appointment, Lydia Piddock, head of UK fundraising, UNHCR said: “With more people fleeing war and persecution than any time since World War Two, the refugee crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Blue State will help us reach new audiences when they’re engaged and online, mobilising support for the refugee cause and helping make our humanitarian work possible.

“Only 1% of UNHCR’s budget comes from the United Nations, so we rely almost entirely on donations to protect the many families who have fled for their lives. Public support has never been more critical.”

Adding to this, Hannah Johnson, managing director at Blue State, said: “Working with an organisation like UNHCR is a huge privilege for us — a chance to make a real difference in such an important area. An unprecedented 70.8 million people around the world have been forced from home, 52% of which are children. We have an opportunity to educate UK audiences in what’s happening and help them understand the role they can play in stabilising and supporting change in this environment.

“Our approach will focus on testing, helping accelerate UNHCR's responsive campaigning model and offering new ways to engage by refining the supporter journey. We’re developing a plan to help underpin tangible long-term growth in the organisation’s UK digital fundraising at one of the most vital times in its history.”

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