The global pandemic has already seen a number of annual traditions that typically encourage people to come together, instead pivot to digital alternatives. Remembrance Day – and the lead up to it – is no different. Since 1921, the Royal British Legion has supported the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force, as well as veterans and their families.
The charity uses the lead up to 11 November as an opportunity to raise awareness of the sacrifices veterans have made in the last century, and drum up donations for the army and veteran communities.
One of these traditions is the Field of Remembrance, where thousands of personal tributes are planted by members of the public up and down the UK. But in 2020, Covid-19 made big events full of people dangerous – so the Royal British Legion needed to find a safe alternative.
So, what would a ‘Virtual Field of Remembrance’ look like? Decades of tradition have seen fields planted with more than 120,000 tributes each year. In 2020, The Panoply and the Royal British Legion were tasked with digitising this. But in moving the experience online, it was vital the charity didn’t lose the engagement of a physical event.
To ensure everyone could pay a personalised tribute, the platform had to offer optionality. It also had to be able to handle the scale of tributes the charity typically experiences each year. And it had to be accessible, able to be viewed by every donor so they could easily locate their tribute, and share it with friends and family to spread the word.
We began by setting up a workshop to understand the charity’s requirements, and to review the various solutions and technology available. The charity decided to use its existing donation funnel, in tandem with the Sitefinity platform.
We then built a new, bespoke front-end, and used Three.js technology to render complex graphics within the web browser. This includes filters and 3D interactive effects in real-time. To give users choice, there are six symbols which can be used to mark their tribute.
They can then attach a personal, written message, along with their details and an optional donation. After the tribute is made, users are transported to the virtual field, where they can click the area they want to plant their tribute. The platform also allows users to view each others’ tributes. All messages are moderated, to ensure the platform is used appropriately and respectfully.
“It was a privilege to deliver a project that provided support at a time people needed it most”
This project saw us invest 40 hours into understanding a completely new technology, which generated 64,720 virtual tributes for the Royal British Legion. Media outlets such as Heart helped to drive traffic to the platform.
In total, the campaign raised £94,406 via the virtual field. The charity’s social and paid search channels alone raised £22,348 more than the previous year, despite spending no more over the same timeframe.
Cost per response was just £7.27, compared to £48.33 just one year earlier – marking a more than six-fold decrease. Whilst funds raised from organic traffic shot up from £12,780 in 2019, to £64,480 in 2020.
That’s a five-fold increase. In addition, the charity raised a further £49,727 via the virtual field after the paid digital marketing had ended. Money that wouldn’t have otherwise been raised, without the switch to virtual.