Hughes PR, Marketing, Public relations, Social media

Loud and clear: fundraising campaigns that work

Natalie Ciccocioppo writes…

From Oprah to Mark Zuckerberg, Jamie Oliver to David Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow to Mark Wahlberg, then extending to your neighbours, workmates and friends, about a month ago, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was literally everywhere.

Mainstream media and social media was awash (see what I did there) with people taking on the challenge – to dump a bucket of icy cold water over their heads and nominate their friends to do the same – raising awareness for a debilitating illness that had previously not garnered a lot of publicity or widespread public thought.

As a direct result of the Ice Bucket Challenge, more than $100 million has been raised for ALS or as we know it here in Australia, Motor Neurone Disease.

There’s little doubt the Ice Bucket Challenge has been an incredibly successful campaign. This article in The Age outlines some of the reasons why the Ice Bucket Challenge cut through and went viral.

Health and cause-related fundraising isn’t new. For many years, various charities have been encouraging the community to take on a range of activities to support their fundraising efforts.

I remember taking part in the World Vision 40 Hour Famine – a popular fundraising initiative when I was in school. Going without food for 40 hours seemed like a real struggle at the time, but served as an important reminder to my 13-year-old self about children of the same age around the world living in poverty and dying as a result of malnutrition and hunger-related illnesses.

In those days, fundraising efforts involved pestering encouraging teachers, classmates, friends and family to sponsor you, and then running around and collecting money in an envelope, which you’d then exchange for a money voucher or cheque, and send off in the post to the designated charity.

Digital and social media has added a new dimension to the rise of cause-related marketing. A successful viral campaign like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge wouldn’t have been able to reach the sheer volume of users that it did prior to social media.

The advent of digital communications means that we can share updates with our Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, Twitter and Instagram followers, and invite them to pledge their support as we take on fundraising activities, and they can directly donate using their credit card online within seconds.

Movember, which raises funds and awareness of men’s health, is another example of cause-related fundraising done well. I lose count of the ‘mo’ updates I see on my Facebook News Feed every November! And it’s not always about asking for money – participants, or as Movember Australia calls them ‘Mo Bros’, are regularly posting photos of their moustache styling, opening themselves up for admiration (or sometimes ridicule) from their friends.

A simple fundraising idea, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge or Movember, that invites people to take action for a cause, can result in a globally successful campaign.

The calendar year is full of fundraising initiatives. In October alone, there’s Girls Night In, Walktober, Frocktober, Octsober, Adelaide Stair Climb, and Buy Nothing New Month, which all invite people to ‘do something’ for a cause.

To cut through the noise, cause marketing ideas need to:

  • Ask participants to challenge themselves or do something fun and visual, to provide a story that they can share with their friends;
  • Relate back to the cause;
  • Have a strong social media engagement element;
  • Share compelling stories of those they support to encourage others to support the cause.

Here at Hughes PR, we are committed to supporting the community. We have several not-for-profit clients that we provide our professional services to on a discounted or ‘no fee’ basis.

We also take part in fundraising events where we can. Over the past few years, our team has helped out at McDonald’s restaurants for McHappy Day, taken part in the JDRF Spin for a Cure, Hutt Street Centre Walk a Mile in My Boots, Jeans for Genes Day, Vinnies CEO Sleepout, OCRF White Shirt Day and worn red to work for Red Nose Day.

Today we are taking part in Loud Shirt Day – proudly wearing our loudest clothing to work to raise funds for First Voice to help give the gift of sound and speech to deaf children.

Who do you think is wearing the best loud shirt? What fundraising initiatives do you take part in?

loud shirt day 2


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