When fundraising meets Social Media

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On 18 March 2014, 18-year-old Fiona Cunningham created a Facebook page asking people to take a selfie with no makeup on, post it and donate £3 to Cancer Research UK. One week later, £8 million had been raised through the #nomakeupselfie campaign which had seen celebrities such as Beyoncé, Rihanna and Cara Delevingne take part in the trend which had spread from Facebook across Instagram and Twitter.


In the month after the initally American based ice-bucket challenge was launched, there was an excess of 2.4 million ice bucket challenge-related videos posted on Facebook with a staggering 28 million people uploading, commenting on or liking ice bucket challenge-related posts. The number of uploads was even higher on Instagram with 3.7 million videos using the related hashtags, which were also used on twitter, #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge.

That’s the fun part, the silly part which saw Ben Stiller nominate Rafael Nadal, Mark Zuckerberg nominate Bill Gates who then built a huge contraption in order to ice himself. However the real reason behind the ice-bucket challenge was to raise awareness and funds for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association and thereafter its UK equivalent, the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association.

Pre-ice bucket challenge, the MND Association would receive on average £200,000 a week in donations. From 22 to 29 August, it received £2.7m – more than 13 times its usual average. And in the one month where ice-bucket challenges took over, the ALS Assocation received $98.2m – a whopping 36 times that which it received during the same period the previous year. Similar to the #nomakeupselfie campaign, this campaign was not started by the charity itself, although it was begun by two sufferers of the disease, Pete Frates and Pat Quinn.


Not every charity can expect to see Oprah and the Beckham family joining in with their social campaign, but that’s not to say that these types of campaigns are not worth attempting. They all start from somewhere and who’s to say what will catch on?

Earlier on this year, Asthma UK created their own social campaign #scarfie. Asthma UK pointed out that, durign the winter months, covering your nose and mouth with a scarf can drastically reduce the symptoms asthma sufferers encounter and so asked their followers to share a selfie where their noses and mouths were covered. Within seven days of this campaign beginning, the charity had reached more than a million people and seen an increase of 740 per cent in the number of new Facebook followers compared with a normal week and a 220 per cent increase on Twitter – even Dame Barbara Windsor joined in.

Don’t forget the hashtag

Whether you’re a charity or a fundraiser, there are lots of simple ways to start a similar campaign. The two things which tend to work on Social Media are things in which people can participate and things which are shareable.

Why not ask people to take a picture of themselves holding up a sign with their reason for donating? Or ask everyone to wear a particular colour on a particular day to raise awareness? As long as you ask people to share these images, people are bound to discover your campaign.

And don’t forget the hashtag! Hashtags are the most simple way for people to engage with a social campaign on twitter and Instagram so get creative but keep it snappy!


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