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Fundraising Campaigns: 10 Charities To Be Inspired By

For years charities have been asking us to part ways with our cash for the greater good. A lot of organisations miss the mark, but there are a few who get it right, managing to tug at our heartstrings and get us to empathise with their cause. Whether it’s through innovation, social or storytelling, we’ve put together a list of ten charity campaigns to take inspiration from.


1. How can charities use VR (Virtual Reality)?

By creating a fully-immersive experience:

Major brands have started to recognise the value of VR, and whilst charities are usually a few steps behind when it comes to using new tech, this isn’t the case of The Passage. This homeless charity’s approach to fundraising was to create a VR experience for individuals to feel more connected to homeless people’s plight.

Participants are sat down, given a blanket and a VR headset which comes pre-loaded with a video filmed from the perspective of a homeless person on Oxford Street during the day, and someone who’s sleeping rough in an underpass at night featuring a confrontational passer-by.

While the end goal is naturally to increase donations to the Westminster-based charity, the campaign was an insightful way of giving people the chance to step into a homeless person’s shoes (albeit for a few minutes) to see what it’s like living on the streets – and some of the participants felt particularly emotional by the end of it.

2. How can you build donors' trust?

Make your charity completely transparent:

While this isn’t necessarily a campaign as such, we’d like to see more charities operate with as much transparency as Street League does. They’ve spent a substantial amount of time developing an Impact Dashboard with graphs, maps and pie charts that are updated regularly to show exactly where their efforts are being directed and what impact those efforts have had. There’s also a Finance Dashboard to show you the charity’s financial situation.

This ties in nicely with the rise of Blockchain technology, which would make it easy for charities to let people know where their donations are going. Since the blockchain acts as a digital ledger for all transactions that are made through it, it means that donors would be granted an unprecedented level of transparency in regards to their financial contributions, which would hopefully increase people’s willingness to donate.

Street league impact dashboard
3. How do you simplify the donation process?

Build a literal 'Give' button:

Save the Children joined forces with Iris Nursery to create a physical donation button named the ‘Give Button’. All you need to do is sign up once and then you can just hit the button to contribute as many times as you’d like. It’s not the most groundbreaking use of technology, but it’s a nice way of simplifying the donor journey, and in a world filled with so much digital it’s sometimes reassuring to have an analogue donation process that doesn’t involve being approached by a charity ambassador on the street.

Speaking of digital, Amazon has recently introduced the Give Button’s evolution: Alexa Donations, which allows Echo device owners to donate by simply saying ‘Alexa donate £5 to The Red Cross’ (for example).

save the children give button

We’ve also joined forces with Save the Children, in an initiative to end violence against children: Introducing Plan Z.

4. How can smart tech be used to increase donations?

Install smart benches with built-in contactless donations:

Cancer Research UK collaborated with Strawberry Energy and MKTG to build ‘Smart benches’ which allowed people to make contactless £2 donations. The campaign was part of raising awareness for World Cancer Day and 10 benches were placed throughout London. Not only did these benches let you donate with your contactless card (which isn’t really new anymore), but they also had charging ports, Wi-Fi and an air-quality monitor, which is a nice way of bringing smart technology and fundraising together.

cancer research uk smart benches
5. How can AI be used to educate donors?

Create an educational chatbot:

Scottish charity Cyrenians helps the homeless and other vulnerable people in society. In order to tackle the many stigmas associated with homelessness, the charitable organisation created a chatbot to educate people about just how easy and quick it can be to find yourself on the street. The thought process behind the chatbot is that people would be comfortable asking it anything, as some questions may feel a bit awkward to ask a real person. The chatbot isn’t perfect, but we really like the thought process behind the idea, and hope to see more charities adopting this approach as a way to educate people about different causes.

6. How do you raise awareness for sight loss?

Simulate the effect of eyesight conditions:

Personally, I love ad breaks. Said no one, ever. But imagine what it’s like for people who suffer from sight loss and other visual impairments, they don’t even get to appreciate the full visual experience of adverts. By creating a series of adverts that simulate the effect of different eyesight conditions, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Channel 4 sought to underline the importance of eye care, ironically ending the break with an ad for Specsavers.

We’ve also been giving visual impairment some thought, and our developer Nikos has come up with SIMI, an object/speech recognition app that seeks to make life simpler for those with eyesight problems. The aim is to help the visually impaired easily make sense of the world around them, whilst also making it easier to use phones, which often lack the right accessibility features.

7. How do you highlight mental health problems?

Create a social campaign inspired by how we use social media:

‘Unmute – Ask Him’ is a clever social campaign that harnesses the way we interact with social media – mainly the fact that we tend to watch Facebook videos on mute – to make a point: mental health is often a silent struggle.

When muted, the videos just seem like subtitled videos of men showing you how to change a tyre or build a fishing rod. However, when you unmute the video, it turns out the men are actually telling you about their feelings, and that they’re experiencing loneliness or isolation from the rest of society.

8. How do you raise awareness about Leukaemia?

Transform San Francisco into Gotham:

Is this the coolest fundraising campaign ever? The answer is yes. Unless you’re the Riddler or the Penguin, in which case this campaign didn’t go so well for you. Directed by the Make A Wish Foundation, San Francisco was transformed into Gotham for the day to make the dream of Miles, a 5-year-old Leukaemia patient, come true. Not only did thousands of volunteers show up bearing various Batkid banners, but the story was covered worldwide – what better way to raise awareness and funds for Leukaemia?

9. How to make a third world problem resonate with a privileged target audience?

Get victims of an earthquake to read out #FirstWorldProblems tweets:

Making use of the popular (and usually comedic) hashtag that sheds light on minute problems of privileged Western societies on Twitter, Water is Life hijacked #FirstWorldProblems by getting victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake to read some of the tweets featuring the hashtag. When read from their perspective, the tweets no longer seem funny at all and make viewers realise how bad some people’s situations are (and how lucky we are in comparison).

10. How can you make donations fun?

Turn donation boxes into arcade games:

Airports are places that see a lot of dwell time, from waiting for flights to waiting for luggage, we tend to wait around a lot. With that in mind, the Swedish Red Cross redesigned their donation boxes and turned them into arcade classics such as Pac Man and Space Invaders to make it not only easy, but fun to donate.

So there you have it! 10 of our favourite fundraising campaigns. We hope they inspired you to spread the word or even donate to a worthy cause. Let us know if we missed any campaigns or if you have any questions by tweeting us @3SIDEDCUBE.

Published on June 25, 2018, last updated on April 9, 2019

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