The Donkey Sanctuary Wins at UK Social Media Awards

Mon 26th Oct

An innovative event, Sanctuary from Your Sofa, that brought donkeys “virtually” into people’s homes during lockdown has scooped Best Audience Engagement Campaign at the prestigious 2020 UK Social Media Awards.

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, all six of UK Donkey Sanctuaries were temporarily closed to the public. The charity knew how much their supporters were missing the donkeys and the tranquility of the sanctuaries themselves.

This tranquil environment was exactly the break people needed from the anxiety and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The charity decided that if the public couldn’t come to the sanctuary, then the sanctuary would come to them, and Sanctuary from Your Sofa was born.

The event saw six 30-minute live broadcasts from its international headquarters in Sidmouth, Devon via Facebook.

The event gave people the opportunity to “visit” the charity’s main herd of resident donkeys, and be shown how the charity’s dedicated grooms were continuing to provide the highest level of care during the coronavirus lockdown. The feel-good event offered audiences the chance to get their “donkey fix”.

The viewing stats of The Donkey Sanctuary’s virtual event on Easter Sunday make for impressive reading. The total reach was 1.1 million people: 440,000 viewers; 41,000 total engagements; and 8,300 comments – from Hawaii to New Zealand.

This meant audiences watched 347,000 minutes of live donkey interaction on the day – equivalent to 232 days.

Most impressively, during a time when many parts of the charity sector were struggling with fundraising due to the lockdown, this award-winning event helped The Donkey Sanctuary to achieve a +110 per cent year-on-year increase in online revenue on the event day.

Sanctuary from Your Sofa was also a finalist in two other categories: Most Impactful Social Media Innovation, and the Best Low Budget Campaign.

Cheryl Martin, Director of Brand & Communications at The Donkey Sanctuary, said, “Bringing donkeys into people’s living rooms was a key objective of our digital strategy this year (before anyone ever uttered the word ‘lockdown’) and we’re all delighted with the success of our Sanctuary from Your Sofa.

“We were up against some big hitting brands and agencies across the three categories, including Samsung and the NHS England COVID-19 campaign: ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’. So, for us to have won is incredible and we couldn’t be more proud.”

Sanctuary from Your Sofa on Easter Sunday (12 April 2020) was The Donkey Sanctuary’s first ever interactive virtual visitor experience.

The UK Social Media Awards aim to celebrate the very best in UK social media communications and reward the individuals, companies, and organisations who are using online platforms to communicate in fresh and innovative ways.

The Donkey Sanctuary is a global leader for equine welfare, research, and veterinary care. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry, and transportation.