Unfortunately, videos of people suffering in third world countries and animals being abused don’t have the same effect and pull on an audience as they once did. Either we’re getting used to it or we’re getting a lot harder to shock. Now more than ever having a creative content campaign is an integral part of any non-profit charitable organisation if they intend on running a successful campaign. In the modern day digital world though this is becoming harder and harder as it can sometimes feel like everything has already been done.
We at Don’t Panic cut our teeth with purpose-driven content for charities including Greenpeace, National Autistic Society and Save The Children. Although we have seemingly cracked the code for successful viral films for charities (our film for Save The Children happens to be the most successful cause-related video ever!) we still like to keep up to date with what everyone else is doing too; mostly for inspiration and only sometimes for a laugh.
This is why we’ve compiled a list of four of the most inspiring content marketing examples from charities that we could find. Campaigns that truly think outside the box and have set the bar for all of us! Whoever knew that dropping a bucket of water on people’s head
Cancer Research – Play to Cure: Genes in Space
Back in 2014, Cancer Research brought out a mobile app called Play to Cure: Genes in Space which was free to download on both Apple and Android devices. The idea behind this campaign was that by downloading and playing the game, which see’s players at the helm of a spaceship trying to collect ‘Element Alpha’, the player is directly aiding scientists in curing cancer. The science behind this, which can be found here roughly translates to players helping scientists spot patterns and faults in the data of DNA by shooting obstacles and collecting ‘Element Alpha’. The hope was that with thousands of users playing the game, this would speed up the process of sifting through DNA data that would have taken scientists years to examine. Whilst the game itself did not cost any money and therefore did not raise any funds for Cancer Research, it contributed to their brand image and raises awareness of the charity. This net the charity £522 million in donations for the year 2014/15, which was up by 7% on the year before. What could be better than gaming and curing cancer at the same time? (somehow the answer may be pouring cold water over your head!)
Refuge UK – Don’t Cover It Up
In 2012 the charity Refuge UK came up with an interesting televised advertisement to raise awareness of domestic violence. They hired Youtube makeup star Lauren Luke to front their campaign by making a makeup tutorial-style video as many YouTubers do and have done in the past, only this time she has bruises and cuts all over her face. The campaign was titled the Don’t Cover It Up campaign, with the message that victims of domestic violence and abuse shouldn’t hide it or cover it up like the Lauren Luke was doing in the video. During the video Lauren talks about how she’s going to cover up her bruises and the cut on her lip in a very casual way, advising her viewers on the best ways to cover up a split lip if your partner had hit you in a fit of jealousy. The end of the video somebody can be heard in another room moving around, which startles Lauren who ends the video abruptly. The message of the video is clear, the format is extremely familiar, especially to a younger audience and the effect is shocking. Using popular culture and social media influencers to reach a younger, harder to penetrate audience did wonders for the charity – the campaign video gained almost 3 million views on Youtube.
Best Friends Animal Society – My Dog ID
The Best Friends Animal Society is a USA-based animal charity that aims to rehome animals that have been labelled unadoptable into new homes. The Best Friends Animal Society decided to truly think outside the box when they embarked on their MyDogID campaign in 2012. They released a free mobile phone application called “My Dog ID” which enables the user to take a photo of themselves or family, friends, etc., which the app then scans to find their doggy ID twin. The results were then sharable via most social media platforms. The concept took off on social media, with Seamus Dever from ABC’s hit show Castle even tweeting about it and putting together his own campaign video for the charity with the aid of Best Friends Animal Society. Having an element of interaction and personalisation to the campaign is what we feel really helped make this campaign successful, as well as having that high share capability.
ALS Association – Ice Bucket Challenge
How can any list of inspiring content marketing ideas not include the well-known ALS Ice Bucket challenge of 2014? Generating a whopping $115 million in donations within just a 30-day period, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has to be one of the most successful social media campaigns we’ve seen. It even captured the attention of celebrities such as Mark Zuckerberg, Charlie Sheen and Tom Cruise, who all participated. The idea behind the challenge was to challenge people to have a bucket of ice water thrown over them whilst filming it and posting it online, as the sensations of ice water being thrown over you was meant to simulate the feelings and difficulties of having ALS to some extent. Typically, at the end of the challenge, each person would nominate a list of people and give them 24 hours to donate via text or the website to the ALS Association. The result of this campaign was not only a huge increase in awareness for ALS, which a vast majority of people had had no awareness of previously, but it also helped raise millions of pounds for the charity. These donations went on to lead to a breakthrough in ALS gene discovery in 2016, which scientists claim could lead to new treatment possibilities. This campaign managed to successfully appeal to an audience of all ages by introducing the social media aspect as well as the emphasis on attempting to simulate the suffering of ALS patients. This truly demonstrates the massive impact that social media can have on any non-profit organisation and can work as a guideline for future campaigns.