GUEST POST: 10 innovative charity campaigns

In this guest post, freelance social media manager Anita Reid takes a look at ten innovative charity campaigns and why they were successful.

| 21st Feb 14

In this guest post, freelance social media manager Anita Reid takes a look at ten innovative charity campaigns and why they were successful.

What we are seeing now is miraculous in terms of utilising digital mediums to spread the word on charity initiatives. Social media, blogs and aggregated news sources have all combined to form a juggernaut force in terms of bringing in user impressions – none seen as clearly as in the plethora of campaigns that are being executed today.

Listed are some of the finest examples of charitable campaigns that soared past the limits in terms of innovative marketing. Each point mentioned has brought forth an amazing return on investment to the organisations involved and gave off a grand sense of awareness to fundraising efforts that would have otherwise not been possible without the power of social media.

1. Water is Life #firstworldproblems

Water is Life executed an initiative called ‘#firstworldproblems’ that proved to be a prime example of hashtag hijacking done extraordinary well. For those in the dark, #firstworldproblems are a series of popular tweets and memes that shed comedic light on Western society’s miniscule day-to-day problems, which pale in comparison to real world issues happening around the globe.

The video spot campaign featured victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquakes reading tweets of the popular #firstworldproblems hashtag in commendable fashion, imploring to us that, yes indeed, there are far more important problems in the world. The ad made a great effort in identifying a viral online trend, then applying it to a real life situation. Water is Life simply presented something to people that was familiar and used it as a vessel to make the people aware of another – genius!

2. Mater Prize Home

Mater Prize Lotteries is a way to fund the Mater Foundation, a well-known Australian institution. They are known for their cancer research and charity work. Mater Prize is a charity in which dream homes are drawn from a raffle, with the proceeds going directly towards the research and care of patients in Mater hospitals. The foundation is truly a blessing for patients within the Mater facilities and so it made perfect sense to see them team up with XCOM Media in delivering a campaign that not only benefited a charitable cause, but did so locally and on a slim budget.

The campaign’s central slogan was “Change Lives”, and it offered an incentive to sports fans in getting the chance to win a door prize and, on a larger scale, an ‘Ultimate Lions Experience’ prize pack, which was accessible after the event as an online draw. The door prize entries were pooled in and directed via email to the Change Lives website. The locally-executed campaign delivered high quality conversions to Mater and XCOM, giving them the boost of impressions and confidence needed to proceed with future online campaigns

The campaign drew in over 2500 new donors to the foundation, and on top of that the charity got their email addresses, phone numbers and huge exposure too.

3. Red Cross Earthquake (Text to Donate)

Another successful campaign that popped up following the 2010 Haiti earthquakes came via the Red Cross with its ‘Text to Donate’ formula for raising funds. Within a mere two days, the organisation managed to accumulate over $5M from donors worldwide through mobile users texting “Haiti” and “YES”, which translated to $10 per message. The success can be attributed largely to the simple and easy process in which mobile users could act on. Over 500 thousand people answered the call-to-action.

4. Movember

Over the past few years, November has slowly taken shape into a new calendar event – Movember. For those in the dark, Movember is a month in which fundraisers grow prominent moustaches to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer and its related charities. The number of campaigns that have started to evolve within the Mo’ umbrella are at staggering numbers, and it’s because of the fact that it is a simple and fun act that males are able to participate in to encourage awareness. Ladies, too, have joined in on the fun, donning Mo-flavored t-shirts, jewellery, and everything in between.


The RSPCA launched a campaign to expose people to cruelty of pets living in unfortunate homes (or lack thereof). The specific TV spot displayed numerous first-person accounts of what it would be like to be a frail kitten or wounded dog in an environment that is harsh and unpleasant. The ad clearly depicts the feeling of being abused or neglected, forcing the viewer to sympathise and become well-aware of the RSPCA’s main objective. Attention from the audience was immediately drawn in due to its urgent nature, and overall the campaign affected viewers exactly how it was set out to.

6. The Big Dig Campaign

Headed by non-profit organization WaterAid, The Big Dig Campaign was a donation-via-text initiative set up to help build schools, improve living conditions, and to provide clean water for the hundreds of thousands of Malawi citizens.

A smart promotional method that the organisation utilised was through the use of Instagram. By showcasing the positive changes of donations in real-time and being able to visually see it on the users end, it provided the campaign with a profound sense of legitimacy. Because of this, donations reached upward of over $3M, matched later on by government funds, and furthermore providing over 100,000 Malawi residents with clean water and new homes to live in.

7. Rachel’s 9th Birthday Wish

A touching true story of inspiration reached the world when Rachel, a young girl celebrating her birthday, asked her friends and family to not give her birthday gifts. She instead insisted that people help her in reaching a $300 goal via MyCharity: Water, which goes to helping children in Africa get clean water. The goal was left unfinished, but it still gave Rachel the conviction to push forward into the following year.

Unfortunately not long after her birthday, Rachel was involved in a fatal car crash, leaving her final goals unfulfilled. Because of this, Rachel’s family and friends rallied together to have her MyCharity campaign reopened and her story has since become a viral sensation on social media platforms, resonating with captivated audiences all across the globe.

Her campaign went on to amass over $1.2M in just over 60 days – proof that a single selfless act of kindness can reach people everywhere if the intent is genuine and the story is captivating enough.

8. Batkid Saves San Francisco

Make-A-Wish Foundation  brought about one of the most widely searched campaigns of 2013 with its plot in granting a wish to leukaemia patient, Miles Scott. The 5 year-old’s wish was to be Batkid, and so together with the City of San Francisco, Make-A-Wish sought out to fulfil his request.

The city came out in droves as streets and buildings were turned into Gotham overnight. When everything was ready, a scenario in which ‘Batkid saves the city’ took place. The grand scheme drew in thousands of onlookers and amassed millions of tweets and a tremendous amount of mainstream media coverage. Much like the Rachel-story, Miles inspired and grabbed people’s attention, pulling them in to cheer for the good guys.

9. Refuge – How To Look Your Best The Morning After

Refuge, in collaboration with YouTube Vlogger Lauren Luke, came up with an interesting approach to raising awareness for domestic abuse issues. Specialising in video tips for make-up application, Lauren uploaded a tutorial in which she appeared before the camera as a victim of abuse, using the beauty tutorial as guide to covering up the bruises and cuts.

With over 400,000 YouTube subscribers consisting primarily of young women, Refuge aimed their message to her specific demographic, which naturally was the absolute perfect target audience for its broad message.

10. To Mama With Love

Epic Change, a non-profit organisation in support of grassroots activists, launched a Mother’s Day campaign, aptly named ‘To Mama With Love’. It involved setting up an online map of the world, encouraging people from all over to upload photos of their mothers. This, in turn, would create a landing page in which funds could be raised in support of female activists in Afghanistan, Nepal, and Tanzania.

For a smaller scale initiative, the campaign took in just over $16k and saw over 300+ fundraising pages created. Overall, it provided people with a different approach to thinking about Mother’s Day and was greatly beneficial in assisting those in need.