When world powers asked countries to increase their military spending, Canadian NGOs turned to Facebook and ActionSprout to urge their Prime Minister to invest in peace, not further military spending. 

On September 4th, 2017, as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked into the NATO leaders summit, he knew that 2,400 Canadians were watching. He received their letter urging him to oppose NATO’s 2% military spending and promote Canadian peacebuilding alternatives instead.


Public Response is a digital agency that serves leading nonprofits and unions in online engagement and government relations. Their coalition for this campaign included International Peace Bureau, Rideau Institute, Science for Peace, Conscience Canada, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Group of 78, Ceasefire.ca and Physicians for Global Survival.

Ahead of the annual NATO leaders summit, the groups contributed to a Facebook advertising campaign promoting their letter through ActionSprout. They reached 10,000 people for every $100 spent on advertising. 

Campaign goals:

The coalition needed to use grassroots pressure to persuade Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to oppose NATO’s 2% military spending demand and promote Canadian peacebuilding alternatives instead.


The campaign used video and an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau to:

  • Reach over 300,000 Canadians on Facebook;

  • Receive 51,000 video views;

  • Gather over 2,400 signatures on an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau opposing military spending increases;

  • Gain national media coverage from Postmedia’s David Pugliese. 

  • Improve media coverage on military spending, such as CTV Question Period.


The coalition used a Facebook advertising campaign to promote their video and open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau. They gave people a voice promoting peacebuilding over international military spending over ten days. The letter received: 


  • 2,434 signatures

  • 26% conversion rate 

  • 5,263 shares on Facebook 

According to Steven Staples, the president of Public Response: 

“The big surprise was how strong the leads generated by the ActionSprout app are! These folks have remained committed to working with us and we continue to cultivate the list and engage with people on this and related issues. This is demonstrated by the open rate and CTR that are roughly DOUBLE what I would have expected.” 

How was ActionSprout used?

Public Response used ActionSprout’s Social Actions feature to create the open letter to Trudeau. Social Actions generate leads built around Facebook and mobile device viewing. As Steve states: 

“ActionSprout provided us with an effective call-to-action for our Facebook advertising campaign. We sent thousands of messages to the government, and are now connected with an amazing community of people who want to continue to work with us on peace issues.”

Public Response securely stored the names and email addresses in the their ActionSprout account where they could be exported and used anytime.  

Campaign creative:

Their Facebook post: 

And the full letter after the link was clicked: 


Campaign lessons and takeaways 

1. The letter used only two sentences to communicate its mission.

If folks don’t get your message immediately, they won’t spend time trying to figure it out. It’s crucial to concisely sum up your topic and call to action. Not only is it important in the post, but also in the action. Keep it short,on topic and easy to understand! 

2. The call to action was clear, concise and actionable. 

The letter included a single request of the viewer and was an easy lift. From our experience, you can consistently expect folks to complete one action at a time. Focusing on the single most important ask is key to success and high completion rates. You can always follow up later with secondary asks now that you have their email address! 

3. The message was shareable. People on Facebook share content because it defines them as an individual, contains useful information and they believe it will make a real difference. Let’s look at those in more detail. 

First, people share content that helps them tell a story about themselves. We share things that build up the person we want others to see us as. In this case, I’m someone who desires less military spending, and more investing in peace and people. 

Second, by sharing a post, people wish to benefit their friends and family. Whether that is sharing important news and information, or simply helping them to smile or laugh that day. 

Lastly, we share content because we genuinely think that by sharing it, we can help spread the word and make real change. 

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