Great Marketing For A Good Cause – 5 Innovative Nonprofit Marketing Campaigns You Need To See

When it comes to marketing, these days if you want to make an impression and be remembered, you need to be thinking outside the box. While it can be tempting to play it safe, to see big results, it’s sometimes necessary to take risks. If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a good place to start: in today’s post we will be looking at five innovative (and highly successful) campaigns from nonprofits across the world. But before we get started, check out our ultimate guide to marketing for charities to get up to speed with the basics and uncover top tips and tricks to help your nonprofit succeed.

#1 Cadbury & Age UK: ‘Donate Your Words’ campaign

More than 225,000 elderly citizens will go a week without speaking to anyone. A big problem that receives little thought. Age UK wanted to change that, so they partnered with Cadbury to raise awareness of the issue by making people stop and think. The idea behind the campaign was to capture people’s attention and make them question the absence of letters to highlight the impact a lack of words can have and draw attention to the effects of loneliness on the elderly. 

To help further their reach and drive sales by evoking emotion, Cadbury created a series of videos (such as this one) to demonstrate the impacts of loneliness and put things into perspective by using real-world examples. Along with increasing awareness, Cadbury was also able to raise donations for Age UK, with 30p from each sale going to the charity. This is where the ‘donate your words’ comes into play, with the absence of words signalling to buyers their purchase will involve a donation. 

charity marketing - Age UK & Cadbury donate your words bar

Overall, the campaign proved to be a huge success, with over 1 million ‘donate your words’ bars sold and people up and down the country making an effort to involve elderly members of their community. To extend their reach further and inspire more people to take action, #DonateYourWords was used across social media to allow users to share the steps they have taken to help as a result of the campaign and the benefits their actions have had. 

#2 UNICEF Sweden: ‘Likes Don’t Save Lives’ campaign

In today’s tech-centric world, many people are invested in social media and believe online communities hold a lot of power – and they do, but only to a certain extent. The heavy involvement of social media in a lot of people’s lives means many are now accused of doing certain things for the approval of others online as opposed to taking action for the right reasons. The ‘Likes Don’t Save Lives’ campaign calls out ‘slacktivists’ – people who think hitting a ‘like’ button is equivalent to a donation – and urges them to take action that really counts. 

While likes and shares are great for raising awareness, as UNICEF Sweden points out: they don’t save lives. Social media action may look good on the surface, it’s the donations that people don’t see that matter. To emphasise this point, UNICEF Sweden created posters and ads such as this: 

charity marketing - UNICEF Sweden poster

Creating a stir with their controversial campaign, UNICEF Sweden sparked conversation both online and offline, with an explosion of worldwide media coverage and their ‘Likes Don’t Save Lives’ YouTube campaign videos generating over 500,000 views, they definitely got people taking notice of their message. 

#3 Truth: ‘#CATmageddon’ campaign

If you’ve watched the ‘Don’t F**k With Cats’ documentary, you will know how passionate people are about protecting animals. Truth recognised this and saw it as an opportunity to raise awareness of the effects of smoking, for not just humans, but animals, too. Honing in on the thing the internet loves the most (cat videos), Truth created a compelling call to action: 

nonprofit marketing - Truth #catmageddon poster

With the initial launch of the campaign at the Grammys proving to be a roaring (or purring) success, #CATmageddon was quickly featured on TV, music videos and various other digital channels, such as Pandora. They then went on to create their own online game (Escape from #CATmageddon) along with a range of Buzzfeed Amplify videos and worked with ‘CATfluencers’ to help extend their reach. 

Driving more than 3 million owned-channel social engagements, 110k mentions and 110 million views, and most importantly, successfully changing the attitudes of young people towards smoking (with a 21% increase in agreement that ‘tobacco companies are bad’ amongst those aware of #CATmageddon), the campaign proved to be a greater success than they ever could’ve imagined. Claiming a range of award and nominations at the 9th Annual Shorty Awards, there’s no disputing that #CATmageddon deserves a place on this list.

#4 British Stammering Association (BSA): ‘I Stammer’ campaign

With their use of clever text effects, bright colours and a powerful CTA (call to action), the ‘I Stammer’ campaign was able to make a mark on an estimated 13.2 million people, encouraging them to adopt a more accepting view towards stammering by challenging the stereotypes created by society. 

Their goal was to raise awareness of the issue and challenge misconceptions of the condition while empowering those with a stammer to feel more confident and to never be ashamed of who they are. To get their message across, BSA used visual effects to symbolise stammering, integrating thoughts from real people with the condition throughout the disrupted text. The messages included powerful, attention-grabbing phrases such as: “I’m not nervous” and “Don’t hang up on me” to encourage people to stop and think. 

nonprofit marketing - I Stammer poster

With their use of bold colours and phrases, along with the creation of #Stamma to encourage people to join the movement and share their stories, there’s no doubt that BSA raised an enormous amount of awareness for the condition and smashed the stereotypes associated with stammering. Shortlisted for a range of awards at the 2020 Third Sector Awards, it’s clear the power of the campaign has been nationally recognised.

#5 WaterAid: ‘#GiveAShit’ campaign

With their bold (yet highly relevant) choice of language and eye-catching visuals, WaterAid’s #GiveAShit campaign was able to make millions of people take notice of a serious issue by offering a light-hearted way for them to educate themselves about an otherwise difficult situation. 

To engage their audience, WaterAid allowed users to create and share their very own ‘poop’ emoji, with the option to choose from a range of shapes, colours and accessories. To further their reach, they engaged with a range of key influencers, including Grace Helbig and Epic Rap Battles, each with millions of their own followers. As well as making an impact online, WaterAid was able to raise additional funds and awareness through a ‘poop-themed’ art gallery event held in New York.

With engagement from 53 countries and over 50 influencers and celebrities, the campaign was able to generate more than 230 million media impressions and generate over 11,000 new WaterAid supporters. For this reason, it’s no surprise that the campaign was nominated for 2 awards at the 8th Annual Shorty Awards event.

charity marketing - WaterAid #GiveAShitThese 5 nonprofits have proven creativity really does pay off, and the best way to get noticed is to be bold. To find out more about the work of the nonprofits mentioned, simply click the headings relating to each. If you’re ready to take your marketing to the next level, contact us today for a free consultation, or for more tips on how to transform your digital marketing, check out our ultimate guide to marketing for charities here


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