Case Study

How Refuge Scaled Their Supporter Base by Over 6,000%


Refuge, the UK’s largest specialist domestic abuse organisation, switched to our unified digital platform in 2019. In the three years that the organisation has been on Engaging Networks, they have grown their email list database by over 6,000% — the result being an active list that has surpassed 200,000 people. Find out how Refuge has sustained consistent growth through ongoing advocacy, email, and fundraising campaigns.

For more on the advantages of a unified digital engagement platform with real use case examples from our clients (including Refuge) and accredited partners, download our latest report, “Attract, Retain, and Mobilise: The Power of Unified Supporter Engagement”.

Scaling social advocacy

Agile organisations can transform their engagement, campaigning, and fundraising programmes when their tech stack is unified and properly integrated. Refuge, the UK’s largest specialist domestic abuse organisation, is the perfect case in point.

Always ready to launch campaigns in real time in response to current events, Refuge has become an unstoppable force in the realm of social advocacy. Using a unified digital engagement platform has made it easy for Refuge to respond quickly and raise awareness of their efforts to help domestic abuse survivors across the UK.

Being freed to work quickly and with agility has seen Refuge grow their email list database by over 6,000% in just 3 years. They also benefited from the assistance of the data management agency Actually Data and campaigning specialists at Forward Action, two of our many accredited partners. “The platform and the [agencies] that we partnered with made it really easy to do daisy chain fundraising asks,” said Anna Chowcat, Digital Mobilisation and Engagement Manager. “The potential is massive.”

What’s the point of going unified?

Before digging into the advantages of a unified digital engagement platform, understanding it is key. Unified Platforms bring together a range of capabilities that help connect the actions that are the life-blood of nonprofit organisations. Such capabilities include, but aren’t limited to: emails, text messaging, fundraising, peer to peer fundraising, membership, and/or online advocacy.

Unified platforms provide reporting and tracking tools that enable organisations to simplify their data-flows with a single source of data. Using supporter data across the platform empowers teams to create and disseminate more varied, personalised, and relevant campaigns to their supporters. It inevitably helps teams break down productivity barriers, become more efficient, and deliver more impactful, effective work.

The best unified platforms will pair with products that an organisation already uses (such as a CRM), seamlessly integrating their campaigns, systems, and processes. Nonprofit professionals no longer need to fret about major charity challenges such as scattered data that can be impossible to access and organise.

With every extra pound raised, every hour saved, and every moment you’re not thinking about your systems, you’re freed to do more good, transform more lives, and ultimately help make the world a better place.

Why Refuge made the switch

Like all success stories, Refuge’s story began with a clear problem that needed to be solved. According to Beth Mullins, Individual Giving Manager at Refuge, the organisation’s donation pages used to be complicated, long, and offered a poor user experience. Low page conversion rates were a recurring issue and form abandonment rates were out of control.

In 2019, the charity switched to a unified digital platform pulling campaigning, email, and fundraising into a single system that offered better functionality, seamless database integration, versatile page editing features, and a consistent, connected user experience. 

“We wanted an option that allowed us to create and delete pages, but I was also very keen for us to be able to create campaign pages — it wasn’t something that Refuge had really done before,” said Chowcat.

2020 marked Refuge’s first full year using their new tools, where they launched their first campaign: The Naked Threat. This campaign was aimed at criminalising threats to share non-consensual, potentially compromising images of people, and it helped change the law in the UK. “That campaign was really successful, not only in bringing people to our email list, but also in donations,” said Chowcat. 

Ever since that first campaign, Refuge has sustained growth through ongoing advocacy, email, and fundraising campaigns. Combining their agility with a powerful, joined-up set of campaigning, email, and fundraising tools has seen their list growth and online income skyrocket. They began with an active database of 3,000 people before changing platforms. Now, three years after moving, their active list has surpassed 200,000.

“There’s always something happening,” said Mullins. “We’re always trying to optimise and that’s always a priority for us. That’s how we’re able to continue to engage new audiences.” She was frank about where Refuge would be without the advantages of a unified digital engagement platform: “We wouldn’t have seen the sort of growth in the email list like we have without it.”

Learn more in our latest report, “Attract, Retain, and Mobilise: The Power of Unified Supporter Engagement”.


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