Christian Aid Week boosts digital engagement with new tools

New stuff includes virtual envelopes, robotic aid workers, and a ‘hurricane-hits-your-street’ experience.

James Hayes | 14th May 18
Image taken from an Christian Aid Week webpage containing information about the new e-Envelope, which supplements the charity's traditional red donation envelope.

Christian Aid has launched three digital engagement tools to kick-start the UK and Ireland’s longest-running fundraising week, Christian Aid Week from 13-19 May and to boost support for the long-running appeal.

The 2018 focus is on families who are still homeless after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti in October 2016, and to raise awareness of Christian Aid’s work in that country.

Christian Aid has launched a chatbot* which allows people to engage with the organisation’s work via Facebook Messenger, and will answer questions from supporters about this year’s appeal and about Christian Aid’s work in Haiti. The chatbot was designed by The Bot Platform.

Designed by The Good Agency, an online game called ‘Escape the Storm’ invites online audiences to see what a hurricane might look like in their area (and find shelter from it) using Google Street View technology, has also been launched.

Victoria Jean-Louis, Christian Aid’s Senior Programme Manager in Haiti, is the ‘voice’ behind the chatbot. “Any initiative that gets people thinking about what life is like for Haitians, and inspires them to get involved in Christian Aid Week, is wonderful,” she said. “The chatbot gives people the opportunity to explore and learn in an interactive way and we hope that allows them to get closer to our work.”

And the charity’s red envelope logo – which was first introduced in 1958 – is now going digital. The envelope – delivered through physical letterboxes every Christian Aid Week by an army of supporters – has been redesigned by The Drummer Agency, and can now be sent as the ‘e-Envelope’ via email to their virtual community in addition to their neighbourhood door-to-door collection.

“We have introduced these changes to further boost engagement and to take the appeal into the digital age,” said Lianne Howard-Dace, Christian Aid Week lead, at Christian Aid. “Last year we celebrated the 60th anniversary of Christian Aid Week – and these changes are some of many steps we are exploring to help secure the next 60 years of this well-regarded appeal.”

Howard-Dace added: “We have 13,000 churches and 60,000 volunteers taking part in Christian Aid Week 2018. We want to honour the charity’s heritage and all the remarkable volunteers who have contributed to making it what it is today.”

*CDW Jargonbust: A chatbot (also known as a talkbot, chatterbot, Bot, IM bot, interactive agent, or Artificial Conversational Entity) is a computer program or an artificial intelligence which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner. (Source: Wikipedia)