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Merlin ‘does the double’ at Institute of Fundraising’s National Award ceremony

Press Release   •   Jul 02, 2013 10:57 BST

  • Merlin wins award for Best use of E-media for Plumpy'Nut Challenge and Best use of face-to-face fundraising for Life or Death campaign

At Monday night’s Institute of Fundraising national award ceremony, international health charity, Merlin, scooped up two awards for its fundraising efforts. The charity was awarded Best use of e-media for its Plumpy'Nut Challenge and Best use of face-to-face fundraising for its Life or Death campaign.

These awards mark a phenomenal journey for Merlin who just 8 years ago had less than £800k in private fundraising income and very low public awareness. Both campaigns were recognised for the unique and innovative ways in which they motivated donors to give to the charity.

Merlin’s regular giving file has increased from just a handful in 2005 to around 12,000 in 2013 and is set to continue to grow. Much of its growth has been thanks to modest investment in direct dialogue techniques such as face to face and door to door.

Renowned for its expertise and innovation in the field of Digital Fundraising, Merlin has been nominated three times for a digital award at the National Awards (winning in 2010) as well as picking up accolades and awards throughout the sector including winning at The Third Sector Excellence Awards (2012) and the JustGiving Awards (2012).

Best Use of E-Media – Merlin, Plumpy'Nut Challenge

Merlin’s Plumpy'Nut campaign challenged people to live off of Plumpy'Nut, a peanut paste used in the field to save starving children, for just one day. Pushed through digital channels alone, the campaign was aimed at 21-35 year olds with targets set at raising £20,000 from cold donors and 200 new donors, both using Twitter, with a return on investment (ROI) of over two.

The campaign hugely exceeded targets, demonstrating the potential that social media channels have to incentivise and motivate donors. £40,000 was raised in cold income, 400 new donors were recruited as well as five new celebrity ambassadors and an ROI of seven was achieved.

Speaking about the win Chief Executive Carolyn Miller, CBE said: “Winning this prestigious award at the National Awards proves once again that we are sector leaders when it comes to digital fundraising in social media. For Merlin, integration and innovation are key and this means that we are able to raise money through this notoriously challenging fundraising channel. I am immensely proud of our fundraising team for this achievement and recognition.”

Visit to download an infographic on the success of the Plumpy'Nut Challenge.

Best Use of Face-to-Face - Life or Death - Merlin PSMS Measles Face-to-Face Campaign

The innovative and experimental life or Death campaign saw fundraisers dress in Merlin branded doctors' scrubs and equipped with medicine vials as props to give members of the public the opportunity to engage with exactly what their donation would be paying for. Leaflets for donors were styled like immunization record cards and donors were also given 'Hero' stickers and Merlin lollipops.

Merlin used three agencies collaboratively in the development and roll out of this campaign, including Open Fundraising, Tag and Listen.

Again, targets were exceeded with 23,409 PSMS donors recruited (target was 20,000) and an average gift of £3.43 achieved (target was £2.82). The campaign has also seen brand awareness for Merlin increase from 7% to 13% in London and 1% to 4% in the north east areas where the campaign was carried out.

Speaking about the win of the face-to-face award, Chief Executive Carolyn Miller, CBE, said:

“Since we started investing in fundraising in 2005 Merlin has always been a strong believer in embracing new techniques for engaging with and securing support from the UK public. Face to face fundraising has been part of our programme from the very beginning and whilst we certainly haven’t been the biggest investor we are renowned for having some of the best results in the UK. Our talented and committed fundraising team rightly deserve this brilliant recognition”.

For more information about Merlin, visit and keep up to date with Merlin’s latest news and fundraising efforts on twitter @merlinUK and on facebook


Notes to editors

Merlin ( is an international health charity, saving lives in the world’s toughest places. Merlin responds with healthcare when people are overwhelmed by natural disaster, conflict or disease. After the immediate crisis, Merlin stays on to assist recovery – building resilience so that those at risk of future health disasters are better prepared. Merlin is a force for health

For further information and assistance please contact:

-  Kim Atkins, Media and Communications Adviser

T +44 (0) 207 014 1703, M +44 (0) 755 728 0026 E

-  Anna MacSwan, Media Officer

T +44 (0) 207 014 1735, M +44 (0) 782 448 7465 E

Merlin is an international health charity, saving lives in the world’s toughest places. Merlin responds with healthcare when people are overwhelmed by natural disaster, conflict or disease and are in need of immediate help.

Merlin will stay on after a crisis to assist recovery. Using medical expertise, Merlin supports health workers to strengthen existing health services and build the resilience of communities by helping those at risk of future disasters to be better prepared. For further information please go to:

For all media enquiries contact Kim Atkins on 02070141703 or Anna MacSwan 02070141735

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