Case Study

How a human centred approach helped breathe new life into an iconic annual event

Engaging with supporters beyond the hard data

Encouraging leaders to share ideas and inspire others

Creating a community of like-minded individuals

About the project

A multi year strategic project aimed at turning around a decline in participation for one of Australia’s most famous fundraising events.

  • Implement a new human-centred strategy for retention and acquisition
  • Create a Multi-channel comms plan
  • 60% Growth success on previous year
  • $2 million raised in the first year from Direct Mail alone
  • Year on Year ROI of 4:1 , 10:1, 15:1

For 22 years, Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea had been inspiring people to gather with friends and colleagues to raise funds for cancer research. Participation rates were in decline and the event needed to rediscover its passion, or hang up the tea towel.

The question we asked was how do you take a 22-year-old mass participation event and give it a chance to engage with the population anew?

The first step was to talk with the people on the front lines. The bakers, tea-makers and event holders who put in the hard work raising funds for cancer. We found these people to be energetic and inspiring with a treasure trove of insights to share.

The next step was to audit the previous 5 years of communications and see what was resonating with the audiences. Identifying these best performing pieces, we tested them against new creative. This new creative was built on industry standard best practice and included some the new insights we had gathered. This gave us a new creative baseline.

The second part of the strategy was to take the energy and motivation we’d uncovered in participants and get them to share it with others.

A rolling 12-month communications strategy was created connecting to key moments throughout the year. This was tailored to existing and lapsed participants and a new onboarding process aimed at encouraging new participants to engage more deeply.

This new human-centered plan was designed to foster a deeper relationship with the Cancer Council Organisation; Nurture friendships and sharing within the wider group of participants; and support all participants with encouragement, fundraising tips, shared experiences and moments of surprise and delight.

A new community was formed and also a strategic model we could apply to Cancer Council’s stable of annual events. 



  • 60% lift in participation – The new approach paid off, with 60% more people getting involved than the previous year.
  • With a reinvigoration of all the design materials and an emphasis put on inspiring people with engaging photography,  past participants returned in droves, and the number of new participants also increased, making this year’s Biggest Morning Tea one of the biggest ever!
  • A continued assessment over the subsequent years allowed me to improve upon the designs while reducing the overall creative costs and increasing ROI

deliver more
than expected.