Mobile marketing on a budget: Donate a Word Via SMS

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With an extremely limited budget, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan launched an innovative SMS campaign that raised money for schools in Afghanistan and created a new way of writing books.This case study looked at how the organisation used a mobile campaign on a tight budget to get the highest reach possible to help those in need.


The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) has been working towards improving the lives of the Afghan people for 30 years. Institutions and state funds traditionally finance SCA’s work, but in 2012 SCA decided to target individual donors with a nationwide campaign in Sweden. The goals were to raise money for SCA’s schools for girls in Afghanistan and increase public awareness of the organization. To that end, SCA launched the “Donate a Word” campaign with Swedish author Björn Ranelid, who wrote a book in 14 days based on words donated to the cause via text messaging.


Since there was an extremely limited budget for the Donate a Word campaign, SCA’s goal was to use Ranelid’s celebrity status in Sweden to get the public interested in the campaign. Then, the hope was that word about the campaign would be spread by the donors themselves. Every time a donor selected a word and sent it in to the campaign via SMS, $6 was raised for schools for girls in Afghanistan. Anyone with a phone could participate, and the audience could follow the story as it developed via a responsive campaign website. Donors received text messages when Ranelid used one of their words in the book, along with a link to the chapter where it was used.

The campaign was launched at Sweden’s biggest book fair in Gothenburg and promoted via Ranelid’s Facebook page as well as through direct mail and Twitter. The Twitter campaign targeted high-profile Swedish Twitter users and challenged them to participate and spread the word.


The campaign resulted in SCA being able to support one year of school for more than 1,250 Afghan girls, all from an SMS campaign on a tight budget. After the campaign ended, SCA called up all the donors, asking them to sign up for monthly donations. The conversion rate was a stunning 28 percent. Donate a Word was so well-received that it has become an ongoing campaign, featuring a new author each year.

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