How to ask strangers for donations? – Use Emotion, Creative Ideas & Challenge

Charity Donation: SmartLife Foundation campaign #SAPNADUBAI: Dream

SmartLife Foundation campaign #SAPNADUBAI: Dream

So many charities try to stop busy pedestrians to ask for donations on the street. A lot of people would say no or pretend in a rush even for good causes.

How could charities effectively raise the public awareness and receive donations?

There are three ways of engaging people with charities: Use Emotion, Creative Ideas & Set Challenge

Engage people with emotion

SmartLife Foundation did an engaging campaign #SAPNADUBAI to raise money to change the lives of UAE’s blue-collar workers’ children.

It all started with real stories: blue-collar workers talked about their dreams. Then agency connected their interview video with their profession to create a public art project: people can donate and put one nail at a time into the art installation which forms a picture of a kid. The result was not just media coverage, but also raised the money to help those workers’ children. Not only 15,566 people currently have viewed campaign on YouTube, it has also reached 400,000 earned media coverage.
The campaign is well-thought-out from concept to execution:

  1. It used emotional videos on social media to bring people from online to offline
  2. At the right time and right location: set up an outdoor art installation at shopping festival
  3. The outdoor nail art installation was relevant to the story.
  4. Allow people to participate: make the nail art (in the right context), donate and share the final art result online. (From offline to online full circle campaign)

SmartLife Foundation case study video: Building dreams

The campaign was successful because:

  1. It used touching interviews to create emotional connections.
  2. From concept to execution was well-thought-out.
  3. The campaign got people’s attention both online and offline, including traditional media and celebrities.
  4. The campaign was scalable and could lead to more future stories.
  5. The campaign not only helped to raise money, but also raised brand awareness.

Think outside box

Besides fun engagement, brand also need to think outside of the box to be creative. The Peruvian cancer foundation has failed to reach their donation goals for the past three years. Agency FCB helped them to think outside of the box to get creative ideas: Ask prisoners for donations. The Prisoners opened their hearts with 52 full cans of donations and traditional media carried campaign ever further: all Peruvians were touched. The result was amazing and breaking all previous campaign records. The case study was a great example of how emotional engagement and creative ideas could lead to great results.

Peruvian cancer foundation: Searching for hearts

The campaign was successful because:

  1. Creative idea: Asking for donations at unexpected place: prison where people tend to judge prisoners as heartless people.
  2. Great execution: the campaign did not stop at the prison. Instead, interview videos with prisoners were spread to online social media and gained traditional media attention.
  3. It used emotional stories to connect with people through video and social media.

Another example:

New Zealand agency FCB had a creative idea to help charity Brothers In Arms: They donated money to companies first to start the conversion. They used digital bank transfer errors to force Call to Action: donation. It did get all companies attentions and some unwillingly gave donations. The campaign currently has 81,704 YouTube views and reached the donation goal.

Brothers In Arms: Bank Job

This campaign started with an innovative idea to spread the message. However, I think it may leave negative feelings for the brand (the charity). Pushy marketing techniques will not deeply resonate with people. Instead, it may backfire and damage the brand image.

Set a Challenge

ALS Foundation started the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in summer 2014 and it swept the internet with multi-platform coverage. How it works: you can response a challenge with ice water dumping on you within 24 hours or donate money to ALS. It was the biggest successful charity campaign I have ever seen. Not only it spread wild on the Internet and traditional media, but also many celebrities like Bill Gates and Jennifer Lopez participated. Because it was a great campaign and fun to watch the ice water being dumped on people, as a result many people did the challenge and made donations.

Charity donation_Set Challenge_iceBucketChallenge_campaign

Beryl Lipton, left, douses Matt Lee during the ice bucket challenge at Boston’s Copley Square, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 to raise funds and awareness for ALS.

To read more about how celebrities participate ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at:

The campaign was successful because:

  1. It is fun to do and fun to watch: dumping a bucket of ice water on someone’s head.
  2. Right timing: It started in the summer.
  3. The campaign used game elements: rules, time limit and challenges.
  4. The challenge rule made it go viral quickly: The challenge only gave nominated participants 24 hours to respond.
  5. It used all media platforms: social media marketing, traditional marketing and celebrities.
  6. Unplanned media coverage raised awareness and surpassed the donation goal.

Most people have kind hearts and want to help charities, but the key is how charities deliver messages to call to action. It is also important for agencies to do campaigns that have real values to the client (charities) rather than to win awards.

What do you think? Have you seen any amazing charity campaign recently?

See other posts:
How to ask strangers for donations? – Use technology to make the process easier

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *