Plan Canada: Because I Am a Girl


Turning “the girl issue” into a cause célèbre


A highly respected organization in its sector, Plan Canada had been unable to engage significant numbers of donors with the issue of supporting girls in the developing world – even though it was proven that promoting girls’ rights was the best investment in international development.


Guided by the SMP map of emotional drivers, we engaged Canadians with the issue of girls’ rights in the developing world by moving the category from pity to empowerment. Our key insight? Canadian donors, especially women and girls, wanted to experience stories of “Triumph Over Adversity” rather than “flies on eyes.” This would allow our audiences to personally identify with the stories of the girls we sought to support.


The campaign not only raised over $50 million in incremental funds for Plan Canada in its first three years, it brought in waves of younger donors – especially those aged 10 to 45 – and changed the category of international development all over the world. “The girl issue” became the new focus of NGOs everywhere. To top it off, we succeeded in convincing the UN to create the International Day of the Girl, now celebrated every year on October 22.

Moral of the story

When you find the right emotional lever, you can truly change the world.