Atheist BusChloe joined us last year to be our admin support for I’m a Councillor.  At the end of the contract she left us to work for The Bible Society.  One day, as happens occasionally, the conversation in the office turned to religion and atheism.  Chloe remarked that she never met a atheist.  There was a bit of silence, and then one by one people in the office stated their position on the matter and Chloe was surprised to find that she’d been working with three for the previous couple of months.

I guess most atheists aren’t too dogmatic about it and don’t shout about it too much.  For most it is a bit hypocritical.  That’s why the Atheist Bus Campaign is all the more astonishing for it’s success.

In just over a week over 7,500 people have donated a total of over £112,000 against a target of £5,500 to run bus ads in London.  It’s an incredible response and from a professional point of view it is worth looking at the reasons why.

1. Simple proposition. Donate money for an ad.  It didn’t try to crowdsource the copy for the ad; it didn’t try to get ideas for where the ad should be placed.  It just asked for money.  Interestingly a Pledgebank pledge gathered 877 signatories – well short of the 4680 required.  Is it because a pledge is that much more complex than a donation?  “I’ll say I’ll donate if enough other people also say they’ll donate.  I hope they do as they say.”

2. Simple process.  Click on link, decide how much, follow clear instructions.  More complex than signing a pledge but because the concept is simple the instructions and process make sense.

3. Fun. The advert is funny. The campaign feels rebellious. People were trying to outdo each other in the comedy stakes by leaving witty comments on the donation page.
Atheist Bus Campaign Progress Bar
4. Press Coverage.
These factors made the campaign an unbelievable success.  They helped it to gather lots of lots of press coverage, which snowballed into more donations and more press coverage.

The person behind who started the campaign is Ariane Sherine.  Unsurprisingly she’s a TV comedy writer and journalist.  She teamed up with a website designer called Jon Worth and the rest is history.



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