5 viral nonprofit campaigns and what you can learn from them
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In 2014, three young men with the neurodegenerative disease ALS initiated the challenge by dousing their heads with buckets of ice water. They took it to social media and challenged others to do the same. More than 17 million ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos were posted on Facebook in just one month, accumulating 10 billion views from over 440 million people. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Jimmy Fallon, and Oprah Winfrey participated.
The ALS Association raised $115 million from this campaign which they invested in more research and raising awareness of the disease.
The Australian nonprofit was founded by two friends to raise awareness on problems affecting men's health, such as testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and mental health. Every November, they call on men to grow their moustaches for the entire month. Initially, 30 people joined. But soon after, 480 people participated resulting to a funding worth $40,851. To date, over 5.5 million people joined Movember's events in 20 different countries, raising over $700 million to support their cause.
Fiona Cunningham's "No Make Up Selfie For Cancer Awareness" was inspired by Laura Lippman's bare-faced photo tweet to show support for actress Kim Novak who received flak after going to the Oscars without makeup.
The then 18-year-old Cunningham created a Facebook group under the same title where she encouraged people to post their selfies and donate to Cancer Research UK.
The campaign raised £1 million in a day, and soon after, the actual nonprofit joined in on the trend represented by Dr. Kat Arney, a Science Information Officer. The nonprofit managed to raise £8 million in donations.
“The no-makeup selfie craze really captured my imagination and I was amazed at the response from people around the world and just thought how great it would be if it could be done for charity,” she said. “After seeing nothing similar on Facebook or Twitter, I thought there was something in it that it could raise awareness of cancer.”
HRC is a nonprofit organization advocating for LGBTQ equality. Its iconic logo was produced in 1995 and was led by then Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. It was not until 2013 that HRC's red logo variation became viral when they chose to change their FB display photo for their planned rally in Washington D.C. regarding two marriage equality cases. They along with other groups chose red to symbolize love. After encouraging others to do the same, many joined the campaign--3 million shares, 800 logo variations, and a 120% increase in profile photo changes.
“I was really interested in this organization that had an iconic logo, and I immediately set out to try to give ourselves an even firmer identity.”
The mission was clear and simple: make 5-year-old Miles Scott's, who was battling Leukemia, wish come true and be Batman for a day. Make-a-Wish Foundation was set to grant Scott's wish. The word spread like wildfire when Clever Girls Collective, a content agency, used its network of 6,000 influencers and live Twitter chat to make this all happen. Soon after, the @SFWish Twitter page was born along with the hashtag #SFBatkid. People and celebrities from everywhere showed their support online.
The event was a huge success! 600,000 tweets were made, while 20,000 people came on-ground for support.
"Every member of the Clever Girls team was empowered to engage. A successful social campaign requires authentic, in-the-moment interactions to resonate with people and bring the story to life.”
Ad Council launched Love Has No Labels campaign back in 2015. The campaign used a publicity stunt to exercise its message of "celebrating diversity and fighting bias". Partnering up with R/GA, on Feb. 14, they put together two people inside a giant X-ray machine revealing only their skeletons. Once out, people got to see all kinds of love, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race, or religion.
The campaign won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial and got viral with over 164 million views online.
“[It] challenges us to open our eyes to our bias and prejudice and work to stop it in ourselves, our friends, our families, and our colleagues.”
Start simple and work your way towards a more elaborate approach.
Try using Video Marketing to increase engagement and connect more to the people you are targeting.
2. Keep an eye on your audience
It's possible for real people and not marketing agencies to initiate campaigns online, all you have to do is to stay alert, and if lucky, you might just encounter one.
3. Give supporters a template
In preserving the key message and linking it back to the campaign, create templates for people to use and give their own flare to.
4. Embrace influencer marketing
Influencers have strong networks and a following. Banking on them could take your campaign to the next level. Just be sure to provide them with a clear brief on your campaign goals and directions for them to best cater to your needs.
5. Reinvent an established content format
Traditional formats are there to be reinvented. Take something people already are familiar with and offer a new way of looking at it. This diminishes learning curves and provides new insights into old thinkings and habits.
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Nonprofit organizations could also take center stage and have viral campaigns. Here are 5 of the most successful and memorable nonprofit campaigns that hit the internet by storm all the while accomplishing their intended mission of raising funds, imparting awareness, or making a wish come true.
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