4 innovative charity campaigns that cut through the noise

From Cancer Research UK’s #nomakeupselfie campaign to the ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge, it takes unique and innovative campaigns (and stellar timing) to cut through the noise and grab the attention of the hectic online world. Here are four recent innovative charity campaigns we think are noteworthy examples.

The Macmillan Online Community

Macmillan Cancer Support in the UK provides a wide range of support services to those diagnosed with cancer, one of which is the Macmillan Online Community where people affected by cancer can share stories, information and support each other.

This beautiful and simple animated video features the voiceover of a real-life community user called Helen. She says, “When I first sat down and the surgeon said to me, “You have cancer”, my brain wouldn’t take anything in any information. I just had lots of questions mushrooming in my brain and I felt very isolated, very alone […] Sometimes you just need to scream and shout and rant and the best place to do that is to go on the forum. You can say whatever you like and nobody will think badly of you.”

The video has been viewed over 580,000 times and is the most popular video on Macmillan’s YouTube channel.

Act for Peace’s social experiment

This video was a social experiment conducted by Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) who support and protect refugees and displaced people impacted by conflict and natural disasters.

The video starts with a young man wearing sandwich boards that say ‘Refugees are scum’ while attempting to hand out anti-refugee pamphlets. Standing on a busy street in Sydney’s CBD, commuters look at him shocked, some angrily berate him, until one man rips the signs from him and takes them away. The second half of the video shows the same young man, this time wearing a sandwich board that says ‘Help refugees’ and attempting to hand out pamphlets, as people walk past him seemingly uninterested. The video ends with the question: ‘You care for refugees. But do you care enough to act?’

The video received worldwide press for Act for Peace’s cause (the video was viewed over 1.4m times when shared on their Facebook page). It helped raise $455,686 for their Ration Challenge campaign, which is enough to feed 2020 Burmese refugees for a year. (The initial goal was $200,000 to feed 925 refugees for an entire year.)

Citizen science at Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK uses ‘citizen science’ to help its work, where everyday people can help them with their work. Play to Cure: Genes in Space was the first mobile app game released by Cancer Research UK in 2014.  Developed with the help of Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Google, it was a world’s first as it used the collective force of players to analyse real genetic data – plotting genetic faults as the game is played – to and help with cancer research.

Since then, Cancer Research UK has released other games and apps, including Cell Slider, Reverse the Odds and The Impossible Line, which allow people to assist cancer research simply by playing them.

Plan Norway’s fake child bride

"Hey! My name is Thea and I'm 12 years old. I am getting married in one month! So, welcome to my blog. This will also be my wedding blog from now on.” It was the shocking introduction to what was later revealed to be a fake blog that went viral. The centre of a campaign by Plan Norway designed to raise awareness of child brides, with some 15 million girls (aged under 18) being married off each year. The blog was the most read in Norway that day, garnering the campaign worldwide attention on social media and press, but more so raising awareness of the issue and funds for Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign.

Released on Valentine’s Day this year, a video (with close to three million views) showing a 12-year-old girl in a bridal dress and a man, many decades her senior, having their (staged) wedding photos taken and the subsequent responses by passerbys, also aimed to highlight the issue of child brides. The campaign was created by Lebanese not-for-profit organisation KAFA’s – who work towards eradicating all forms of gender-based violence and exploitation of women and children – and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Is there an innovative campaign by a charity or not-for-profit that grabbed your attention? What was it and why?

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