Together for Yes – how we changed Ireland: The story of a grassroots, digitally powered campaign that mobilised a nation to give, get out, and vote

On 25 May 2018, Ireland voted by an overwhelming majority to overturn the constitutional ban on abortion. It was the culmination of a massive campaign that mobilised huge numbers of Irish people to give, canvass, campaign, and vote for radical change. This is the story of how we did it. This session will look at the strategies, techniques, and stories that Together for Yes – the civil society campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum – used to inspire thousands of people to: 

  • Get involved, volunteer, and join local canvassing teams.
  • Donate huge amounts of money to the campaign – including a crowdfunding campaign that raised over €600,000 in a matter of days.
  • Win a landmark referendum on a hugely contentious issue by a landslide. 


Aimed at: 

This is an inspiring story of mobilisation and change that will interest anyone seeking progressive social change. It will be especially useful for: 

  • Individual giving fundraisers 
  • Digital fundraisers/managers 
  • Activists and campaigners 
  • Storytellers and content producers 
  • Strategists 
  • CEOs 


Learning outcomes: 

  • Understand what charities and other non-profits can learn from mass mobilisation campaigns 
  • The importance of values and stories in mobilising and motivating large numbers of supporters 
  • How fundraising and campaigning can work together and successfully reinforce each other 
  • The benefits and drawbacks of a fast-moving, ad-hoc, “pop-up” structure and what charities can learn from that 
  • A good cry, and probably some cheering and whooping


Ailbhe Smyth (Ireland)
Convenor, Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment
Damian O’Broin (Ireland)
Managing Director, Ask Direct