Compassion International

Is there a difference between an activist and an advocate?


WMBB explored whether a community invitation to acts of compassion could serve as a catalyst for a culture change in engagement with a global charitable organization. A large-scale research study resulted in a simple, but impactful, shift of messaging and meaning for 600,000 donors.

WMBB Services

The project

Over its 70-year history, the non-profit organization Compassion International has led the way in gathering essential support for children in poverty all over the world. Ranked number 10 on the Forbes “America’s Top Charities” list in 2021, they have found sponsorship for over 2 million children.


When Compassion International began exploring new ways to engage their over 600,000 active monthly donors, WE MUST BE BOLD was asked to focus on the role of their messaging and language.

The research revealed that language like "advocate" or "advocating" felt passive and distant, while "activist" or "acts of compassion" felt passionate and active.

To understand how Compassion International’s language was being perceived, WMBB designed a large-scale survey of 1,500 active donors and over 500 of their existing advocate member network.


The research revealed that language like “advocate” or “advocating” felt passive and distant, while “activist” or “acts of compassion” felt passionate and active. These more active terms kept the responsibility internal to the donor, not external. This cause was personal for the donors and they wanted to act on that closely held belief.

With this insight, WMBB and their agency partner proposed a messaging strategy and campaign called “Greater Than One,” which focused on acts of compassion beyond only monetary gifts. Messaging devices and new imagery shifted the focus to action and personal belief, rather than passive advocacy. The campaign was rolled out across their website and donor communications and helped to communicate Compassion International’s long-term vision and ambitious, world-changing goals.

WMBB’s approach to research aims to reflect a community’s needs rather than creating concepts in a vacuum. Through asking the right questions of the people who Compassion International was trying to reach, a resonant and powerful message emerged and is still in use today.

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