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Congratulations to DFID for winning Campaign of the Month

DFID ran the Soccer Aid for Unicef and UK Aid Match campaign, beating Poldark in the rating wars to demonstrate to the UK public that aid works

UK Aid Match is a progamme run by DFID bringing charities, the British public and the UK government together to collectively change the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. It is designed to provide opportunities for the UK public to engage with international development issues and have a say in how UK aid is spent, whilst boosting the impact of the very best civil society projects to reach the poorest people in developing countries.

For every £1 donated to a UK Aid Match charity appeal, the government will also contribute £1 of UK aid. UK Aid Match is funded from the international development budget, for donations made by individuals living in the UK.

Soccer Aid for Unicef

Soccer Aid for Unicef is an example of an Aid Match appeal supported by DFID. Run by Unicef UK, this multi-stakeholder fundraising initiative brings together well-known celebrities and former professional football players to take part in a charity football match, broadcast live on ITV. It was launched and co-founded in 2006 by Unicef UK Ambassador Robbie Williams and Jonathan Wilkes, and has featured the likes of Usain Bolt, Olly Murs and Niall Horan as well as football legends including Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and Eric Cantona. Viewers of the game are encouraged to donate and wider fundraising activities take place in schools and community groups in the run up to the match.

Over the last 12 years, Soccer Aid has helped raise £29.5 million, allowing Unicef to provide life-saving food, vaccines, clean water and protection from violence to millions of children in danger around the world. DFID has supported Soccer Aid for Unicef since 2012, backing projects across the world. The money raised in 2018 will help tackle preventable deaths of new and expectant mothers and children under-five. For example, it will go towards Unicef programmes in Lesotho and Eswatini, improving the lives of the most vulnerable women and children, and ensuring access to quality maternal care and HIV services. Overall, it will benefit close to 180,000 women and children under-five.



  • Awareness – increase awareness of the role of aid and the purpose of Aid Match
  • Behaviour – encourage people to share Aid Match messages, creating advocates and influencers
  • Behaviour – encourage donations to Soccer Aid, with the public motivated by Aid Match


  1. Engaged – members of the public who are supportive of aid and involved positively in development
  2. Marginally Engaged – members of the public who are concerned about how the aid budget is spent and are sceptical about how effective aid is.


Through Aid Match, DFID engages with channels they would not usually have access to. Soccer Aid for Unicef provides a hook to get messages into unexpected places and pro-bono communications support gives access to paid-for-media, expanding the campaign’s audience reach.


  1. Aid Match messaging and logo was used on all Soccer Aid for Unicef communications. This included celebrity presenters taking about Aid Match, branding in the stadium and on the UK team’s kit, all of which were shown live on ITV. In the run up to the game a large number of pro bono adverts were placed, including 1,252 out of home adverts across the UK and 12 adverts in consumer and national press.
  2. Well-known public figures such as Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, Robbie Williams and Olly Murs were influencers sharing messaging, generating coverage across social, national, consumer and regional media. Many took part in the “Blindfold Keepy-Uppy Challenge” – a viral social media campaign challenging people to take part and nominate others.
  3. Ministerial engagement Included Ministers awarding medals live on TV, attending schools’ fundraisers and even taking part in a parliamentarians ‘v’ lobby football tournament. The PM hosted a reception for the teams, school children and Aid Match charities, at which she spoke of her support for Aid Match.

All campaign content demonstrated to the public a clear connection between their donations and UK Aid Match funding to end preventable deaths of new mothers and children under-five in Lesotho and Eswatini.


Evaluation was carried out using qualitative and quantitative data from

  • In-house media and social media monitoring
  • Unicef’s quantitative brand tracking and qualitative focus groups with viewers
  • Aid Attitudes Tracker – quantitative survey of UK public attitudes


DFID generated over 600 million opportunities to view Aid Match messaging, including a live match audience of 5.1 million on ITV (beating Poldark), 1,252 OOH adverts, 29 pieces of national coverage, 173 regional pieces and over 100 influencer videos on social media.

Objective 1: Aid Match awareness

OTV translated into widespread awareness of the government matching donations – across the UK 1 in 4 people were aware. The Marginally Engaged were as likely to be aware of aid match messaging and watch the match as the wider public, demonstrating the effectiveness of engaging this audience through sport and broadcast media.

Objective 2: Sharing Stories

Quotes by celebrity players generated 179 pieces of coverage with Aid Match messaging, including 29 pieces in national publications that have previously been critical of aid stories.

The Blindfold Keepy-Uppy Challenge went viral following challenge videos from celebrities including Olly Murs and Usain Bolt. More than 100 challenge videos were shared on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, with recorded views of more than 2.3 million.

Objective 3: Donations influenced by government Aid Match

Donations exceeded the previous year, raising £5.5 million for Unicef.

3% of the public reported donating, including the Marginally Engaged. 85% of donors were aware their donation was doubled. Focus groups show viewers felt Aid Match made an ‘impressive difference’ to donations.

Grass-roots fundraisers hosted the Soccer Aid Challenge in over 2,000 locations across the UK including schools. 100% of school fundraisers and 66% of mass fundraisers said knowing their donations would be doubled would encourage them to do this next year.

Through the partnership with Unicef we were able to create a mutually beneficial relationship: DFID got UK aid messaging and branding onto prime time TV, all free of charge, allowing us to reach new audiences; meanwhile Unicef increased donations, with donors motivated by the knowledge their donation would be doubled.

Tim Singleton, Director of Communications at DFID said “I was really pleased to see what DFID was able to achieve by working so collaboratively with a partner such as Unicef, Soccer Aid was a fantastic way for us to reach new audiences with our story and show the UK public aid works.”

The DFID Team

The campaign was a whole Communications Division effort, led by:

  • Philippa Russell, DFID Soccer Aid Virtual Team Leader
  • Michael Hughes, DFID Soccer Aid Digital Lead and Inventor of the “Blindfold Keepy-Uppy Challenge”
  • Miriam Evans, DFID Soccer Aid Press Lead
  • Helen Stratton and Clare Deahl, Soccer Aid Insight and Evaluation Leads
  • Angus Mercer, DFID Soccer Aid Stakeholder Engagement Lead


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