Dignity in Dying

Designing a new digital tool to drive offline campaigning action

The 30 second read:

To influence a crucial debate in the House of Lords, Dignity in Dying needed its supporters to write to hundreds of peers by post – a big ask. We designed an online letter-writing tool that was used almost 6,000 times to create personalised messages. The result? The Bill passed its Second Reading unopposed.


The longer read:

The challenge

Digital mobilisation has been a game-changer for Dignity in Dying. Together, we’ve built an online community of over 300,000 supporters and mobilised dozens of people to meet with their MPs.

The Assisted Dying Bill’s Second Reading in the House of Lords was a crucial moment. Dignity in Dying wanted to encourage peers to support the bill, but they were hard to reach via the usual digital channels.

Our challenge was to mobilise Dignity in Dying’s online supporters to send paper letters to members of the House of Lords – a high bar action with the potential to have a huge impact.

What we did and why

Writing, printing and posting a letter was a big ask, and we wanted peers to receive lots of them. This meant we needed to make the action really easy to do and ensure each letter was as powerful as possible.

So, we designed an online letter writing tool that:

  • split the process into three simple steps
  • invited users to write to up to three peers and randomised the recipient each time, so that letters would be spread between peers
  • used questions and example text to show people how to write a persuasive personalised message
  • made sure everything was completed online apart from printing and posting the letter.

After people had written a letter, we built on their engagement with a series of follow-up emails asking them to share the action, write another letter and report any replies they received.

To promote the tool, we sent emails to Dignity in Dying’s supporters and ran Facebook ads.

The impact

The Assisted Dying Bill passed unopposed at Second Reading – a huge success.

The campaign clearly had an impact on the debate, with Lord Pearson, Baroness Harris and others describing the heartfelt messages they had received.

Although we couldn’t track how many letters reached peers’ desks, we know that 5,910 letters were downloaded from the tool (an average of 1.8 per user).

Dignity in Dying now has an effective new way to mobilise its online supporters to take high impact real world action, which can be adapted for other targets beyond the House of Lords.