Case Study

How Spotify Wrapped inspired Refugee Action


Refugee Action is a charity that works with refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK. They help refugees settle into new homes, provide help and support to navigate the asylum system and help them to access essential services like doctors appointments and school places for children. Campaigning and fundraising are also key parts of Refugee Action’s work.

A personalised ‘thank you’

Refugee Action wanted to really show their appreciation for everything their supporters had done during 2021, whether that was signing a petition, emailing their MP, taking part in a sponsored event or making a donation.

They wanted to thank their supporters in a very personalised way, so it didn’t feel general, and show that taking part in campaign actions and making donations had made a real impact to their work.

In short, the team wanted to engage, entertain, innovate and appreciate.

“The consecutive crises of Covid, the introduction of the Nationality and Borders Bill, and then the evacuation of Afghanistan had meant that we spent most of 2020/21 repeatedly asking our supporters to donate, fundraise and take campaign actions, just to get us through – and they stepped up time and time again, showing incredible generosity and dedication to our cause. In the chaos of it all, it was easy for us to forget just how much work we were doing, and we thought that supporters might also have lost track of how much they’d done. We wanted to do something out of the ordinary in terms of supporter stewardship, to acknowledge the magnitude of support they’d shown, and to do so in a way that felt fun and uplifting.”

Hannah Winter
Digital Communications manager, Refugee Action

A Year in Review 

The solution was inspired by Spotify Wrapped, the rundown of everything you’ve listened to and the most popular tracks over the past year on the streaming music platform.

Refugee Action created a supporters’ Year in Review, which was sent out by email and was designed to remind supporters about all the different ways their contributions had helped during 2021. 

Supporters viewed a series of personalised screens in their browser or on their phone. If they had emailed their MP, or had made a donation, they were told the impact of their specific action or what their donation had helped to achieve.

How it worked

Glyn Thomas and Joe Derry Hall from Root to Branch Communications have been working with Refugee Action for nearly six years and created a technical solution that leveraged the existing functionality and features in Engaging Networks – notably the CRM, email and data export functionality – and built on some additional functionality hosted separately that would deliver the Year in Review. Here’s an overview of how it worked:

  • A web app was created to sit alongside Engaging Networks (built in Google Firebase).
  • Data was imported from Engaging Networks into the app around which activities supporters had done. This was consolidated with some data relating to offline donations that was stored in Raiser’s Edge, to ensure that the Year in Review did show a supporters full donation amount for the year, for example.
  • The web app gave the Refugee Action team a simple interface to use to create the different screens that would be seen by supporters, and to determine which activities a supporter would have to have done in order to see a particular screen.  They could design the layout with responsive options for different screen sizes, add simple animations, and insert personalised content (e.g. name, amount donated, number of petitions signed).
  • An email was then sent to supporters from Engaging Networks with a link that included a unique URL parameter for each supporter. The link took them to a landing page, built in Engaging Networks, containing a widget that loaded the display of the personalised screens created in the web app.  On the final screen users were encouraged to share their Year in Review on social networks.

The results

Emails to supporters linking to the Year in Review did not include any kind of financial ask. However, shortly before they were sent emails about the annual Christmas appeal, with the aim that it would help increase the number of donations.

And while it’s not always easy to quantify the benefits of supporter stewardship communications, there are some stats that more than suggest a positive impact as a result of sending out the Year in Review.

First of all the Christmas appeal had a projected donation rate of 0.13%, meaning that 0.13% of people on the email list would make a donation to the appeal. This actually ended up being 0.2%, an increase of 54%.

The fundraising team at Refugee Action had also projected that the average gift would be £20.40, and this ended up being £37.61, an increase of 84%.

Looking longer term as well, since sending out the Year in Review emails, Refugee Action’s email open rates have consistently been 3%-6% higher than before.

Immediately after contacting supporters with their Year in Review, many Refugee Action supporters had some very nice things to say about it as well:

“Thank you for this – it’s good to see the cumulative effect of small actions. I’ll keep looking out for your emails and respond quickly.”

“I support nearly 20 charities and often feel overwhelmed by the volume of requests for help from them. Your recent communication with a review of what I have helped you to achieve over the past year gives me some comfort that the little I do does help to make a difference.”

“So touched by this little video. Seriously I feel I’ve done so little – am so enormously grateful for what you are doing. I’m going to set up a regular donation to your organisation – can’t afford mega-bucks, but every little helps.”

Key takeaways

  1. Quality supporter stewardship is an investment and takes time – but it pays off.
  2. There’s lots of scope to build and create new solutions that sit alongside Engaging Networks and are fully integrated with the platform’s existing features.
  3. Start planning early when you launch complex new projects! And allow lots of time for testing.

Using Engaging Networks and want to use this concept in your own organisation? Contact: Glyn Thomas, Root to Branch Communications [email protected]