Launching a campaign online: STAND UP for Tiny Lives

AMR's STAND UP for Tiny Lives campaign has used the Internet to gather information and experiences from people affected by premature birth, as well as to recruit and mobilise campaign support.


Action Medical Research (AMR) commits over £3 million a year to support high quality research around the UK. It has been fundraising for research into the causes and treatment of premature birth through its Touching Tiny Lives appeal since 2005.

More than 25 babies die each week as a result of premature birth, and those who survive an early arrival will need a great deal of care, sometimes for the rest of their lives. However, the causes of premature birth are little understood, and there is no national strategy for tackling this costly and deadly problem.

In response to the problem, Action Medical Research decided to relaunch their STAnD UP for Tiny Lives campaign, which in 2006 delivered a 10,000 strong petition to 10 Downing Street calling for more research into premature birth.


    Stand Up for Tiny Lives - Joshua
    The story of baby Joshua, born at just 23 weeks, was one of the experiences people shared via the Action Babybook set up<br /> on in the run up to the campaign relaunch
  1. Secure an independent "Premature Birth Inquiry" from Government, to look at how medical research could help reduce the numbers of babies born pre-term.
  2. Raise the profile of AMR through media work.
  3. Attract new people to AMR.
  4. Enthuse and motivate AMR's staff, volunteers and existing supporters, so they continue to support the charity.
  5. Build a range of partnerships with organizations to enhance the credibility and reach of STAND UP's call for a Premature Birth Inquiry.
  6. Monitor and evaluate the success of all campaigning activity to improve likelihood of success for STAND UP and future campaigns.


AMR staff were crucial in attracting the first visitors The campaign had a limited budget and staffing. A to the site. Department-specific landing pages were mix of a dedicated website and third-party functions used to gather information for a 'leader board' to set such as flickr and google maps would enable up competition between departments to see who could maximum impact while keeping costs down. All online bring in the most supporters. activity was designed to complement offline lobbying and organising.

What was done

A group was set up on photo-sharing site called 'the Action Babybook', as well as a facebook group to enable the campaign to reach out to people directly affected. These were set up well in advance of the campaign launch, and the stories, photos and direct experiences shared fed into the development of moving and high-impact campaign materials.

Stand Up for Tiny Lives: logo imageEight of the people who had joined the flickr group took part in the campaign's public launch in February 2008, getting an estimated £280,000 worth of media coverage.

The dedicated campaign microsite is linked from the home page of the main AMR site. A bespoke system allows people to sign up to the campaign and leave a message on a campaign noticeboard on the home page if they wish. They can then email their MP directly to ask them to support the call for an inquiry. The site integrates google maps to show which MPs have already responded, and also allows people to email their friends and share their own experiences of premature birth, including uploading photos.

When they are emailed, the MPs are provided with links to allow them directly to sign up to the campaign, as well as a pro forma press release for them to use locally. If an MP signs up, an email to the people who contacted them is automatically triggered. The site includes moving video - one commissioned professionally, originally for use at community fundraising events and another created fairly informally by campaign staff.

Planning and costs

The budget for the site itself was £10,000. One of the requirements was that all updates could facebook group to enable the campaign to reach out be managed in house without needing support from AMR IT resources, so it was built using WordPress blog to make this straightforward. The planning and execution was done over nine months.


By early May, less than three months after launch, over 1,200 people had signed up and over 400 emails had been sent to MPs. 33 MPs had said they would support the call for an inquiry.

Patrick Olszowski was Campaigns Manager at Action Medical Research when this article was written.

by Patrick Olszowski, Action Medical Research published Sep 15, 2008,
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