International Rescue Committee & Game of Thrones

May 12, 2017

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) worked with HBO's "Game of Thrones" to raise funds needed to safely resettle refugee children and their family members in the U.S. IRC's "Rescue Has No Boundaries Campaign" drew parallels between refugee crises and the show’s themes of war and banishment.

Image Credit: HBO


Based on the best-selling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” depicts two powerful families playing a deadly game to sit atop the Iron Throne and win control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Wildly popular, the show offers endless opportunities to promote civic engagement by tapping into fans’ empathy and enthusiasm about themes reflected in its storylines. “Game of Thrones” fan activism can achieve strategic aims such as the following:

Strategic Aims:

  • Speak truth to power: Depictions of inequality and the human cost of war may appeal to fans interested in social justice. Note: If a fictional show inaccurately represents a difficult topic, nonprofits can seize the opportunity to create rapid response communications that helps set the record straight.

What IRC Did:


Celebrity engagement


The International Rescue Committee helps people survive, recover and gain control of their future after conflict and disaster shatter their lives and livelihoods. By joining forces with HBO, it created “Rescue Has No Boundaries” videos in which “Game of Thrones” cast members explained why they support refugees. Promoting the campaign with the hashtag #RealmToTheRescue, IRC and HBO galvanized fans to make a difference in the lives of individuals forced from their homes due to conflict and unrest.

“It brings a fictional story of displacement and conflict to a real-life one and hopes viewers will be prompted to donate, and it’s bringing to cause to the audience, rather than the audience to the cause.” – Katherina Rosqueta, Executive Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania


The trailer for “Game of Thrones” latest season was retweeted more than 32 million times within 24 hours of its release. #RealmToTheRescue tapped into this momentum and garnered national recognition from publications such as The New York Times. A similar fan activism campaign, Star Wars: Force for Change, harnessed the Star Wars fan base and raised more than $4.2 million to improve the lives of children worldwide.

Are you interested in implementing a fan activism campaign at your organization? Thanks to our generous donors, AndACTION is able to assist philanthropic, nonprofit and other social good organizations arrange film screenings, pop culture pivots, and many other meaningful activities to spark change, possibly replicating successes such at the ones described above. Our services are free of charge. For more information and support, please email us at