3 Awesome Nonprofit Marketing Campaigns and Why They Matter

There are a lot of nonprofits doing really cool things to increase fundraising and general awareness of their work. But every so often, a charity manages to knock it out of the park with their marketing campaign. These are three of our favorite marketing campaigns and what you should take away from their success when planning your marketing strategy.

Charity:Water’s “Thank You” Videos

To celebrate their fifth birthday in 2011, Charity:Water did something very special for all the people who helped fundraise for them. They made personalized Thank You videos for each and every person/campaign, about 250 in all. But these videos were not just generic, boring thank yous. Charity:Water chose to involve everyone in their staff to help with this project, with each video having a particular theme related to the campaign they were thanking.

The campaign was especially captivating because Charity:Water allowed their staff to get creative and let their personalities bleed through in each video. We felt like we were getting a glimpse into the atmosphere of the people behind the organization, helping us feel further connected with both the people and their goal to bring water to everyone.

Donors want to feel connected to the organization they are supporting, so it is just as important to show them the people and personality behind the scenes as it is to emphasize your mission. Putting a human face (or faces) to your organizations helps people feel more connected to your work.

So be sure to turn the camera around every once in awhile and shine the light on your amazing staff doing the good work. (And be sure to thank your supporters as well!)

Mama Hope’s “African Men. Hollywood Stereotypes.”

Humor is a powerful tool. Mama Hope took full advantage of the humorous-side of their important work in their video “African Men. Hollywood Stereotypes.” The video features a few African men playfully explaining how absurd the portrayal of African men in Hollywood really is. The men in this video are not the typical machine-gun toting, violence-loving, war lords we see in many action movies. They are your typical young men, who spend their time studying, playing sports and joking around.

Mama Hope takes a unique approach by tackling the issues of African stereotypes and pitying using positive messaging and humor. These tools are much more effective because they help humanize the issue by making it more accessible and fun. We are not overburdened by the emotional or serious nature of the clip. Instead, I found myself laughing along with these men at the absurdity of the stereotypes and immediately sharing the video with others.

This video works because of its humor. We are a culture that loves to laugh, meaning positive videos are often the ones that go viral (e.g. Gangam Style). Shining a positive and optimistic light on your important work will help new supporters better relate to your work and feel more comfortable sharing it.

UNICEF’s Pinterest Satire

One of the cleverest marketing campaigns came from UNICEF, who utilized the hugely popular photo-sharing social platform Pinterest to promote their new fundraising campaign.


UNiCEF's pin vs.your average pin.

UNiCEF’s pin vs. your average pin.

For this campaign, UNICEF created a Pinterest profile for the fictional Ami Musa, a 13-year-old girl from Sierra Leone. Like millions of other Pinterest users, Musa had a board dedicated to the things she “really wanted” and filled it with photos of various items. The only difference was that Musa’s items were not the typical materialistic items found on most people’s boards; they were instead every day necessities many of us take for granted: water, soap, shoes, etc.

These pins took something very familiar to Pinterest users and stripped away the trivial nature of the platform, urging users to step back and re-think what is truly important in life. The campaign succeeded for two reasons: it was clever and original, and also it took advantage of a huge platform that has been difficult for most nonprofits to tackle.

The success of the UNICEF Pinterest campaign highlights the importance of bringing your content directly to your supporters, who are not only on Facebook and Twitter. Taking risks and doing something different is also a great way to stand out from the rest of the content on social media, which often blurs together in peoples’ minds.  Don’t be afraid to try something new, whether it be a new social media platform or a new approach to telling your story. It may pay off big in the end.

What is your favorite nonprofit marketing campaign? 


A Few Tools to Help You Get Back into Social Media

Social media is difficult to master. Each platform has its own set of best practices and every one seems to be continually changing and evolving. These changes make staying active on every platform a difficult and sometimes frustrating task, even for the social media savvy

We know the struggles with social media, which is why we have decided to begin a series of articles focused on helping you stay engaged with your supporters through social media in an easy and smart way. For our first post, we have gathered a few social media resources to help you stay on top of your social media strategy and avoid the dreaded social media slump.

Social Media Posting Guide

One of the best guides for starting a general social media strategy comes from Craig Von Korlaar over at Top Nonprofits. This handy guide gives you a quick run through of general best practices when posting on Facebook and Twitter. It is definitely worth printing out and hanging up around your desk, for quick reference and a good reminder whenever you hit that social media slump.

Social Media Posting Guide

Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet

Social media platforms are constantly changing and evolving, making it pretty difficult to keep up with all the different restrictions and recommendations for photo, logo and banner sizing. There is nothing more frustrating than spending an hour planning and designing a perfect Facebook post, only to have it turn out looking awkward because the photo is the wrong size or the image is misaligned.

Luckily, the good people at Lunar Metrics have created a very useful infographic that details the media sizing information for a range of platforms, from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube and Pinterest. Definitely worth bookmarking for future use!

FB Cheat  Sheet

An Explanation of the Four Facebook Ad Types

Facebook advertising is an amazing tool, but also a daunting task for those new to these types of ads. There are four different types of ads on Facebook, each with their own specific purpose and drawbacks based on your objective.

So which type of ad will work best for you and your goals? John Haydon recently wrote an excellent summary of the four types that is crucial information for anyone wanting to get started in advertising on Facebook. Check out his article here.

Social Media Sharing Buttons and the Potential Hazards

Social Media Mess

Social Media sharing buttons seem like an easy and obvious solution to promoting your work across the various social platforms. Unfortunately for many websites, social media buttons are proving more harmful than helpful. Too many buttons can slow down your site’s loading times and often overwhelm your readers, as they have to decide which platform to share your work on. This is why it is critical to always remember who your audience is, how they behave and what content they are looking for.

Last fall, we posted an article highlighting some of the potential problems with relying too heavily on these social media buttons and some important things to consider when designing your website. You can find the full article here.

What are your favorite tools/resources that help you stay on top of social media?

Social Media Sharing Buttons: How much is too much?

Since the beginning of the social media boom a few years ago, social media sharing buttons have always been a popular choice for anyone trying to promote their work. They seem like the silver bullet in getting readers to spread your work across the various social platforms. Unfortunately for many websites, social media buttons are proving more harmful than helpful.

The Search Engine Journal published a great article yesterday about the potential hazards of having too many sharing buttons.  The main three reasons they cite are:

  • Too many social buttons can slow your site’s performance: More buttons means more things for the browser to load, which can lead to slower load time and possibly annoyed users.
  • Too many options can cripple decision making: Anyone who has been to the salad dressing aisle knows the difficulties of making a single choice when given a ton of options. We are often worried that we might make the wrong choice or miss out on the better option. These feelings hold true in all aspects of our lives, including our social media habits. Don’t  force too many options on your readers.
  • Content with zero shares looks unpopular: Most social media buttons come with a built in counter to show off just how popular your content is. But for most of us that aren’t the major blogs raking in millions of views a month, our counters are a bit lackluster. It turns out these low numbers could have an effect on how new readers share, or don’t share, your work.  Just to be safe, remove the counter from your social buttons and let the reader decide on their own if the work is worthy of sharing.

So the question remains, which buttons should you keep? Before making that decision, there are a few things you must look at:

Understand Your Traffic: Before making any decision, you should always check your analytics and understand where your traffic is coming from. If 20% of your users are coming to your site from Twitter, there is obviously a strong reason to keep your “Tweet” button alive. On the other hand, if only 0.001% of your traffic comes from Reddit, maybe a Reddit button is unnecessary. Knowing where your traffic comes from is critical in optimizing your site for your users.

Understand Your Content: Next, take a look at the type of content you are posting. If you have a blog that posts daily photos of your work, then focus on platforms that cater to your visual-heavy content. Pinterest, Facebook and Google+ are all great places for people to find and share photos and videos.

Understand Your Demographics: Lastly, it is important you understand who your users are. Each social media platform has its own unique type of people that dominates their user base. Pinterest is most popular among women (age 25-54), Google+ is mostly used by young males (24 and younger). Knowing who your audience is will help you decide which platform they are hanging out at.

Still Not Sure? If you still are struggling with deciding which buttons to keep, and which to kill, there is always the safe bet of simply using the most popular platforms. Facebook and Twitter are the two biggest players in social media, so it makes the most sense to keep those buttons. The Google+ button has many advantages as well, especially since content shared on Google+ is automatically added to search engine results, a major SEO benefit.

Most of all, it is important to understand that social media buttons are not a cure-all for your marketing troubles. They are simply additional tools to your already beefy marketing arsenal. Use them carefully and always check your analytics to see what is and isn’t working.

Which social media buttons do you use on your site? How helpful have they been in spreading your work?

Photo courtesy of Kexino