Gabey Goh
Apr 4, 2016

CASE STUDY: TURDTalks turn the tide for Philippines education NGO

Education-oriented NGO Silid Aralan (‘Classroom’) focuses on the neglected 80 percent of Filipino public school students, those struggling academically yet equally worthy of investment. The charity needed help raising awareness and funding for its cause.

CASE STUDY: TURDTalks turn the tide for Philippines education NGO


The organization’s core objectives were to increase pledges and donations by 67 percent and increase its learning hubs from one to three.

The main challenge to overcome was compassion fatigue. The Philippines is home to 60,000 registered NGOs serving many causes, the list is long and so are the requests. Annual natural disasters, like the strongest typhoons ever recorded in Southeast Asia, add to the donors’ fatigue.


The campaign tapped into the concept and popularity of TEDTalks – how it makes expert knowledge interesting and available to anyone who wants to learn, through conferences and videos of the talks shared on social.

Y&R Philippines introduced the concept of TURDTalks, a speaker series featuring those that society perceive as ‘tae’ (translation ‘dirt/turd’) low-performing, low-income students who ended up changing not only their report card grades for the better, but their lives and society as well.

The audience, comprising potential donors and education practitioners, saw first-hand just how they turned their lives around. Not because of an exceptional ability, but because someone invested in them.

Beyond the event, the media strategy moved with the assets in hand such as videos of the conference. The rest – tweets, shares, blog entries, and media features – happened organically, further spreading the thought that ‘turds’ too have ideas worth sharing.


Donations of almost Php $9 million (USD185,916.80), exceeded the Php $2 million target by 340 percent. Donation fatigue was also overcome with influencers advocating Silid Aralan as a worthy and important cause.

During the first TURDTalks event in April 2015, the organization received an on-the-spot public donation of corporate office space worth Php $6 million (USD126,761) which allowed Silid Aralan to grow its number of learning hubs from 1 to 4. 

Additionally, the organization received Php $2 million (USD42,253.8) in support from a Singaporean donor who heard of Silid Aralan via an article shared online. Apart from corporate sponsorships, it also received Php 800,000 (USD16,901.5 USD) in pledges from individuals. 

Other results included an increase in volunteerism by 300 percent from 7 to 20 and the increased legitimisation of Silid Aralan, which in May 2015 received an endorsement from the Department of Education.

TURDTalks garnered free media coverage worth Php 10,787,220 (USD228,267.10 USD) across leading local channels, radio, in digital and print.

With a minimal campaign spend of just Php 28,000 (591.55 USD), TURDTalks gained the support of stakeholders, covering operational costs in the long term and in less than six months, Silid Aralan is already halfway towards its five year-goal.

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