10 Examples Of Charities Using Online Marketing To Succeed

In our mobile-connected, always switched-on world there is much debate as to whether our digital transformation has been for better or worse. Some say it has made us less human and more emotion less. It’s true that maybe we have become heavily dependent on technology – with search putting a world of information at the touch of our fingertips, social enabling us to connect using devices without people and GPS taking us directly to a location – but, no matter which side of the fence you sit on, the charity sector is a perfect example to see how digital innovation has helped bring a positive change and empowerment far greater than our traditional methods.

Pre-digital era, the not-for-profit charity sector (in general) was extremely restricted and lacked resource. Now, thanks to the empowering of digital, charities can instantly amplify their brand, messaging and fundraising across the globe! Charities are now sitting among some of the top performing brands and are being highly awarded for their digital activities, below we take a look at 10 examples of how charities are succeeding online.

1. Macmillan Coffee Morning: Create an Event.

Today is the Macmillan cancer charity’s biggest fundraising event of the year and the world’s biggest coffee morning. From its small beginnings in 1990 it has since grown into a huge national event, driven by its online presence. With so many of our lives being affected by cancer, this event gives us all a great reason to get together and support this wonderful charity with a slice of cake and cup of coffee. Although the events themselves are held offline, the charity uses its website to spread awareness, register sign-ups, provide information, and receive donations. The website  has become a hub for people to share recipes, stories, photos, support and encouragements – making them feel part of a wider community.

MacMillan Coffee Morning

 Source: Macmillan Coffee Morning

2. ALS / MND Ice Bucket Challenge: Go Viral.

Not long ago, we all encountered video after video of people throwing buckets of ice water over themselves, raising awareness and money for the ALS & MND Association charities. The ice bucket challenge went viral because it gave people a challenge, a voice, it made room for creativity, it gave way to peer influence, technology made it simple for us to record and upload content and people across the globe (including celebrities) got behind it. It proves that digital has the potential to have a huge impact on fundraising efforts when it goes viral.

MND Ice Bucket Challenge

Source: MND Association

3. Macmillan Pinterest: Share Image-centric Content.

Macmillan uses Pinterest particularly well. With 1,632 followers, 22 boards and 645 pins. Image-based content is a perfect way to gain attention, share information and spread awareness. Macmillan use their boards to share infographics, answer FAQs, introduce people, offer fundraising ideas, recipes and much more. The account is run extremely well. Articles that include an image are known to achieve 94% more views and so the use of Pinterest is ideal for gaining visibility, images can re-purposed for use in other areas too (ie blogs, general marketing etc). I especially like the use of the infographics that share vital statistics and key pieces of information as it is sometimes hard to digest this information when placed in the body of an article, but facts and figures are extremely important, within an infographic it is easily understood.

Macmillan on Pinterest

Source: Macmillan Cancer Pinterest

4. RSPB: Become Social.

Social media is a great way to engage and connect with people and build up relationships in real time. It’s a place to identify your tone of voice and offer a deeper understanding into your brand, what you stand for, what you are doing and raise support. One of my personal favourites is RSPB – they offer a really great example of how brands can do social well without it leaving a huge hole in the marketing budgets. I think the key to social these days is to identify the balance as early as possible, quality over quantity, and choose platforms that you know you can remain active on. There’s nothing worse than an empty page. RSPB commit themselves Mon-Fri 9-5 to tweeting information, news stories, conversations, facts and entertainment to their 121K followers. RSPB also have an active presence on Facebook.

RSPB Twitter Page

Source: RSPB

5. Unicef YouTube: Share Your Story.

Videos inspire people, they allow you to tell a story and the viewer to connect to your message on a deeper level, to empathise. Telling a story effectively is one of the most important factors for any marketing success. Unicef have a brilliant online video strategy. Within their YouTube page they include videos, topic playlists, global channels, open discussions and an about section with links to their social accounts. The videos are well produced and authentic. YouTube have a non-profit program which allows charities to overlay call-to-actions, add in annotations and link to the external websites to capture donations.

Unicef on YouTube

Source: Unicef YouTube

6. Pilion Trust: Be Controversial.

Unlike the names above like Macmillan, Marie Curie, Unicef etc, this is a small front-line charity without the big budgets to make themselves heard in paid-for media, in fact, most of us have probably never heard of them. They have a simple basic website, but their controversial ‘Fuck The Poor’ campaign gained recognition earlier this year because it was unique, unexpected and it got us all thinking. “The campaign highlights the discrepancies between peoples attitude when confronted with injustice and bigotry about poverty, and then their apathy when asked directly to help do something about it – donate.” Andy Bird. Charities can learn from this – the video shows that people do care but there are circumstances in which people care more. Campaigns need the right strategy and planning.

Source: Pilion Trust

7. Movember: Set a Trend.

Last year, D&W heard Jason Hinks, Chief Operating Officer for Movember, speak at iStrategy (San Diego). The Movember Foundation challenges men to grow moustaches during Movember (November). It has grown from its humble beginnings in Australia, 2003, into a global movement with official campaigns now running in 21 countries. It is a tangible trend – it happens once a year, everyone partakes at the same time, it feels like you are part of something bigger and it is focuses around spreading key health messages to men everywhere. They have developed an attractive brand, a great online presence, and tell their story well.

Movember Website

Source: Movember

8. Sport Relief: Get Celebrity Backing.

The big sporting events in the UK over the last three summers (Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Tour De France) have captured the sporting hearts of the British public. “Beyond Breaking Point” was Davina McCall’s triathlon challenge this year: running, swimming and cycling from Edinburgh to London in 7 days for Sport Relief. Fans of both Davina and Sports Relief were able to follow the story as it unfolded in real time online and see the ups and downs of Davina’s challenge. Other celebrities who supported Sport Relief this year included David Beckham & Kylie Minogue. Figures have more than doubled since 2010 as celebrities amplify their support online.

Davina Does Sport Relief

Source: Sport Relief

9. Oxfam: Partner With a Brand.

Not all fundraising is about money donations. M&S and Oxfam have partnered to reduce the number of clothes that end up in landfills. M&S has a goal of recycling as many clothes as it sells each year (hundreds of millions) with the donations going to Oxfam. Their scheme is called ‘Shwopping’ and both the M&S and Oxfam websites have a dedicated area that explains what ‘Shwopping’ is, how to get involved, how to create an event, participating stores and a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what happens with all the donations. The M&S brand in itself is powerful, but it is strengthened even more by the celebrities behind it.

 M&S Shwopping

Source: Oxfam

10. Charity Water: Make it Personal

Their mission statement reads: “bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations”. Firstly they make it personal by identifying that many of us will never have known what it feels like to really be thirsty. They then introduce some of the 800 million people on the planet who don’t have clean water and put us in their shoes. The Birthdays section profiles people (identified by name and photo) who have used their birthdays to give to the cause and encourages others to do so, too. Scott Harrison, CEO, shares his personal story online and gives the brand a face and personal touch. This personal way of connecting with donors creates stronger loyalty and advocacy.

 Charity Water Website

 Source: Charity: water

Over the years we have loved working with charity organisations on a variety of projects and tasks focused on gaining visibility through digital and maximising the funding. Whether you are a large or small charity, the key thing to remember is that a digital marketing strategy should be well thought out, planned and executed.

If you are in need of a digital marketing strategy and would like to chat through your challenges, goals and ambitions, please give us a call on 0161 946 3851 or drop us an email – we’d love to discuss opportunities that will help you to stand out and achieve more success.

By 2018, 42.4% of world’s population will be plugged into the internet, with around 3.6 bn people able to access it at least once a month.
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