Freedom From Torture

Rapidly recruiting and mobilising supporters to stop the Rwanda deportations

The 30 second read:

Freedom From Torture needed to quickly build a powerful campaign to stop the UK government deporting refugees to Rwanda. Using our handraiser model, they recruited thousands of people who helped pressure an airline to quit the scheme – a huge win.


The longer read:

The challenge

When the UK government announced its flagship policy of deporting refugees to Rwanda, Freedom From Torture had to act fast to block it. This meant rapidly recruiting supporters who would be prepared to take high bar campaigning actions to stop the Rwanda plan.

What we did and why

We were already bringing in new Freedom From Torture supporters at a low cost using our handraiser recruitment model, with headlines themed around the Human Rights Act.

Following the same successful structure, we quickly launched an open letter to Boris Johnson opposing the Rwanda plan, promoted via social media ads. We then did a few key things to maximise its success:

  • Content: We kept the post-signing journey and welcome emails focused on the government’s anti-refugee agenda. This enabled us to engage people who were passionate about the issue and prepare them for the campaigning asks that would follow.
  • Relevance: With the political landscape changing rapidly, we regularly adjusted copy and images – both in ads and on the page – to reflect what people would be seeing in the news and in Freedom From Torture’s (often viral) social media posts.
  • Testing: We also ran A/B tests to find the most effective copy and images, balancing this with the need to change content to keep things topical.
  • Monitoring: We kept our two existing handraisers running, monitoring leads and donations and allocating our ads budget accordingly, so we could keep cost per acquisition low.

The impact

With thousands of new supporters who opposed the Rwanda plan, the Freedom From Torture team was able to use this amazing people power to drive their campaign to stop the flights.

They launched a series of high impact actions asking people to pressure Privilege Style, the airline lined up to deport the first refugees, to drop its contract with the UK government:

  • 16,000 people emailed Privilege Style
  • thousands called them out on social media and hundreds phoned them up
  • 10,000 people signed an open letter to stop sports teams using the airline.

And it worked! On 21 October 2022, Privilege Style said it would not fly refugees to Rwanda.

The wider picture is worth celebrating too. In 2022, our three handraisers brought in 46,000 new email supporters with a cost per acquisition of £0.58 and a lifetime return on ad spend of £2.12.

This growth has helped Freedom From Torture build a truly powerful and passionate opposition movement that’s ready to keep challenging anti-refugee policy into the future.