Creating Global Appeal to Attract the Next Wave of Changemakers


Global Citizen Year is a nonprofit launching a new generation equipped to drive positive change. Through a virtual Academy and immersive Fellowship, they select talented students who represent society’s diversity and equip them with the empathy, agency, and global network to drive impact today—and over the course of their lives.

They partnered with Media Cause for a paid media campaign to increase the number of leads and applications. They wanted to continue to grow the Academy program and increase the number of global changemakers they help guide through the campaign.

The Outcome

Between April 13, 2022 and July 6, 2022, we helped Global Citizen Year acquire a record-breaking number of leads for the program—46,212—and applications to the Fall 2022 program—510— achieving their campaign goal to increase leads and applications and engage the next generation of global leaders.


leads in under 3 months


total applications submitted through the paid advertising campaigns


increase in total applications from the Spring 2022 cycle
The Challenge

The gap year fellowship program was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization pivoted by developing and offering the Academy, a 12-week virtual leadership experience that connects international students together and equips them with the tools to become global changemakers through instruction from world-class speakers, instructors, and mentors. The Academy has two cycles per year (a fall and spring cycle) and began in Fall 2020.

Throughout recruitment cycles, the challenges have been to improve the full-funnel experience, increase total top- and mid-funnel leads, and build a strong remarketing audience to bolster application numbers—all in an effort to attract high-quality students across the globe.

The Strategy

We focused on a three-stage funnel to build and nurture relationships with potential Academy students and keep them engaged during the application process. Throughout these stages, we tested different platforms and created concepts to maximize reach and volume while gaining valuable data for future cycles.  

Through strong collaboration with the client, we strategized and implemented experiments across all stages of the funnel to drive the greatest impact:

  • Top-Funnel: Awareness, Traffic, + Leads: Focusing on a broad, international audience of 17 to 21-year-olds
  • Mid-Funnel: Leads with Downloadable Content: Focusing on website visitors + lookalike audiences 
  • Bottom-Funnel: Applications: Focusing on retargeting leads

Across the funnel stages, we engaged on the following platforms: Google Display, Google Discovery, YouTube, Facebook/Instagram, + TikTok.

The Implementation

Outreach Experiments

During the outreach stage of the Fall 2022 recruitment campaign, we tested four different messaging propositions, including Pillar 3, which was the highest lead driver during the off-cycle experiment. From a lead and application standpoint, Prop A performed the best, garnering the majority of leads and applications during this funnel stage.

The messaging propositions included varying themes to appeal to a wide audience across stages of the funnel. The messaging themes were:

  • Pillar 3 (From previous off-cycle testing): Fun Global Community
  • Prop A: Define Your Purpose
  • Prop B: Become a Leader for a Better Future
  • Prop C: Unlock a Network of Global Opportunities

Mid-Funnel Experiments

During the mid-funnel stage of the Fall 2022 recruitment campaign, we tested messaging around a downloadable Zine—which performed the best during previous Academy recruitment cycles—against two new efforts: syllabus ads and “Why I Applied” ads. The engaging, downloadable content from the Zine ads drove the majority of leads and saw the highest volume of applications during this phase. 

Zine: As with previous Active Recruitment cycles, we tested messaging focused around the downloadable Zine

Syllabus: New for this cycle, we tested a downloadable piece of content around the Academy syllabus and what the program is like

Why I Applied: Another new effort this cycle was around testing messaging with testimonials for why former Academy students applied and gained from their experience

Bottom-Funnel Experiments

During the Bottom-Funnel stage of the Fall 2022 Recruitment campaign, we tested messaging around the three deadlines—Priority, Regular, and Extended, as well as a “How To Apply” carousel ad on Facebook throughout the final phase.

Priority Deadline: These ads were focused on messaging around the 5/25 deadline

Regular Deadline: These ads were focused on messaging around the 6/29 deadline

Extended Deadline: These ads were focused on messaging around the 7/6 deadline

How To Apply: This ad was focused on walking through the steps to apply; highlighting how easy it is

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