Invisible Children works exclusively on an ever-changing dynamic conflict in central Africa in which former child soldiers often want to defect from Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

An opportunity for a real-time response came up. Starting three weeks before, a group of LRA combatants had left notes indicating that they wanted to surrender, but didn’t know how to do it safely. Invisible Children’s international programs team was coordinating a response.
The mission was happening that weekend. 25,000 “come home” fliers were to be dropped from a plane over the group’s known location.
Our Idea:
Let’s give our supporters an opportunity to fund this real-time mission.
We are going to do this mission no matter what, but this is a real need and it is urgent. Furthermore, there is a high likelihood of success. We’re almost sure that this will be a win, let’s share that win with our donors.
Decide primary distribution method:


Describe vision to web designer:
We decide to design specifically¬†for mobile viewing, based on data that 60% of IC’s audience opens emails on mobile. We recognize the trade-off that the viewing experience on desktop will be fine, but not optimal.
Etablish a content structure:
  1. The situation: an LRA group wants to surrender
  2. What we’re doing to help: drop “come home” fliers from a plane
  3. How readers can help: fund the flier-drop
Generate content:
I ask an expert from the international programs team to write out a description of what is happening and what Invisible Children is doing about it. I encourage him to write in his normal style, including the jargon, and cover the subject thoroughly from his point of view as international programs director.
Edit content to tell a compelling story:
I boil the copy down to main points, strong appeals, and a logical order.
Design the email:
The designer and I sit down to co-create. We share the goal of making the strongest possible appeal–visually, emotionally, and logically. Back and forth we go, making slight adjustments to layout and phrasing for the strongest effect.
Get Feedback from stakeholders:
  • International Programs Director explains where we can simplify and where to be more specific. He suggests including a statistic for credibility.
  • VP of Business Operations advises that we ask for $25 instead of $5.
  • Communications Team suggests using an emoji in the subject line and capitalizing on the “flash action” language.
Make it easy to donate:
We create a campaign-specific Fundraising page, set a one-time $25 donation as the default, and write a confirmation email that assures donors of a prompt follow-up.
Send test emails, and then send final email
Consider other immediate and easy methods of distribution:
The comms team creates photo and text assets to be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.