The CEO SleepOut™ – Rise to the Challenge – CEO SleepOut™ Trust

Category: Best use of measurement of a not-for-profit campaign AND Best use of measurement for a single event

Client: The CEO SleepOut™ Trust

Campaign title: The CEO SleepOut™ – Rise to the Challenge

Member: Ornico

AMEC Awards 2016


The CEO SleepOut™ is a global movement which sees the business elite sleep under the stars on one of the longest and coldest nights of the year to raise awareness and funds for the homeless. The movement was founded in 2006 by business leader Bernard Fehon in Sydney, Australia.

Ali Gregg, founder of The Philanthropic Collection, engaged Mr Fehon in 2012 to extend the concept to South Africa and imported The CEO SleepOut™ concept and brand from Australia. The movement was officially launched in South Africa in 2015 with the aim of igniting a new wave of philanthropy in the country and to drive social change in assisting with one of the country’s most pressing problems – vulnerable children and youth living on the streets. Girls & Boys Town, a dynamic non-profit organisation that focuses on the development and strengthening of youth, families and communities in difficulty, was identified as the perfect beneficiary for the inaugural event. Based on Father Flanagan’s famous Girls & Boys Town in Nebraska, USA, Girls & Boys Town is the only child care organisation in South Africa where youngsters are significantly involved in decision-making concerning their own affairs. Their unique system of peer group self-government and ‘family-style’ living encourages girls and boys to learn about leadership and responsibility under the guidance of adults.

“For the first time you’re actually experiencing the kind of suffering and struggle that you are trying to fund. The ability to do this is actually a unique opportunity. I am quite humbled by it”. Adrian Gore, CEO Discovery

Launch day saw central Sandton in Johannesburg play host to CEOs and business leaders, giving them the opportunity to experience life on the streets, meet Girls & Boys Town alumni but, most importantly, to raise awareness and funds to drive social change.
The main objectives were:

  • Collect R25 000 000 (US$1.973M) in donations for Girls & Boys Town
  • Improve awareness through the media of the homeless and vulnerable children
  • Invite 250 CEOs or senior business leaders to participate, each donating R100 000
  • Create multiple campaign benchmarks for future events

A month later the Stakeholder Auditing Partner BDO SA announced that a record-breaking R26 054 869 (US$2.056m) had been collected. It was the largest sum ever raised by a single South African charity event and the largest amount raised for any inaugural CEO SleepOut™ event globally.



The CEO SleepOut™ approached Ornico to provide social media monitoring services for the event. Based on the initial engagement, Ornico volunteered its full suite of monitoring and analytical services, identifying the opportunity to promote the Barcelona Principles by showcasing best measurement practice in a report for distribution to all participating CEOs and business leaders post-event.

The client had very specific campaign objectives. Ornico was able to guide the client further with the use of the AMEC Valid Metrics Framework, suggested for not-for-profit events. Specific metrics were identified which would assist the client in evaluating the performance of communications activities and the event itself. These included advocacy, key message alignment, knowledge transfer, target demographics and more.

The CEO SleepOut™ had limited resources, so had to secure the services of several partners, sponsors and friends – including logistics, hospitality, communications, media and measurement partners. Joint Title Partners in the shape of Sun International, a resort hotel chain and casino destination from South Africa created by Sol Kerzner, and probably best known for its Sun City Resort, and Radio 702, Johannesburg’s number one news and talk station, were secured for the event.

The key elements of the strategy were:

  • Direct invitations to 800 key business leaders to participate
  • Use partners and influencers to target key audiences and provide the necessary endorsement
  • Create exposure and awareness of the event through nominations and peer challenges in the media
  • Generate advance knowledge of the event as well as ongoing coverage leading up to it
  • Provide easy access to information regarding the event including how to register, donate or challenge peers
  • Create visibility for participants and partners through their association with the event
  • Run a sustainable event which is viewed positively by the targeted audience and public
  • Collect and analyse data across print, broadcast, online, social and owned media
  • Conduct a survey for participants
  • Use All Media Products Survey (AMPS) data


The CEO SleepOut™ made extensive use of its key media partner Radio 702 to drive coverage of the event, with individuals as well as specific shows being tracked against key metrics across both traditional and social media. A key strategy included on-air nominations as well as personal invitations to potential participants.

The AMEC Valid Metrics Framework formed the basis of the measurement and evaluation of metrics for each step of the various communications phases. Ornico’s monitoring capabilities enabled the data to be collected, while analysts provided the necessary qualitative insight and analysis.


Each media item was assessed according to the following variables:

  • Media source
  • Title partner and sponsor mentions
  • Beneficiary partner mention
  • Mentions of stakeholders, influencers and friends
  • Companies mentioned
  • Companies challenged or nominated
  • Sympathy SleepOuts (other events arranged in support)
  • Key message alignment
  • Commitment and endorsement
  • Knowledge transfer – based on eight variables
  • Advocacy of event – based on six variables
  • Tonality
  • Prominence

Google Analytics and App user analysis
Ornico analysts were given direct access to The CEO SleepOut™ website and could track visitor activity in terms of frequency, bounce rate, region and sources of traffic. The CEO SleepOut™ App usage data was also collected and analysed. All participants completed a detailed survey for further analysis.



At the time, The CEO SleepOut™ held the record for South Africa’s largest ever single charitable or philanthropic event. Ornico’s monitoring and evaluation services were used on a daily basis to keep track of developments and to adjust strategy accordingly – even attempts at ambush marketing could be thwarted successfully.

Ornico research demonstrated the effectiveness of the campaign and event, as well as the client’s ability to reach their objectives. The results from the various measurement initiatives are enabling them to plan for future campaigns by identifying effective channels, as well as partners. Standout results include:

  • 104 percent of target achieved in terms of funds raised (R26 054 869)
  • 98 percent of participant target reached (247 CEOs and business leaders)
  • 70 percent of media coverage contained key message concerning the homeless and vulnerable
  • 2015 showed an average monthly increase of 45 percent in media coverage focusing on the plight of the homeless after the event (measured across all 12 months)
  • 74 percent overall positive sentiment
  • 60 percent of CEOs nominated on radio took part
  • 14 unofficial “Sympathy SleepOuts” were held
  • The most successful participant recruitment channel was via direct invitation – 39 percent
  • 43 percent of website traffic to was via direct access – more than any other referral channel
  • High media advocacy for the event in analysed media items (7.2/10)
  • Social media engagement of 3.4 percent on Twitter with an average of 9.4 likes and 1.9 shares per post on Facebook
  • 4 percent negative coverage post-event – some feeling CEOs used event as PR exercise
  • Channel performance across awareness, knowledge transfer and advocacy could be demonstrated
  • Effectiveness of invitations and referrals vs media coverage could be demonstrated
  • Participant demographics were collected
  • Multiple measurement benchmarks were set

The Ornico Campaign Analysis Report was made available in an e-book format as well as a printed 48-page full colour report which was hand delivered to all participants – reinforcing and providing independent evidence of the success of the event, as well as to encourage future participation. Ornico further conducted additional research on media channels, prominent influencers and partner performance in support of the main campaign analysis, so helping to guide the communications and partner strategy for the following year and beyond.

Major changes included the omission of a main media Partner, and a greater focus instead on smaller media partnerships and on social media. The spontaneous “Sympathy SleepOuts” showed great public support which will now be leveraged by launching up to three additional official “SleepOut” brands in the future.

Ornico established measurement and evaluation as an integral part of The CEO SleepOut™ strategy and is a vital partner for any future events. The report is a great showcase for Ornico to demonstrate the benefits of using best measurement and evaluation principles as dictated by the Barcelona Principles, Barcelona Principles 2.0 and the AMEC Valid Metrics Framework.

Name of contact: Francois van Dyk

E-mail: [email protected]

Telephone: +27 11 884 5041