Kirsty Marrins: Top 10 digital charity campaigns of 2017, part 1

From homelessness to gender-based violence, the campaigns that have caught our columnist's eye this year

Kirsty Marrins
Kirsty Marrins

It’s almost the end of another year, so it’s time to reflect on 2017 and take a look at how charities used digital to campaign, fundraise and raise awareness. Here’s part one of my top 10 charity digital campaigns of the year.

10. The Passage – Look the Other Way

It’s December, which means cold days and nights, but also the excitement and anticipation of Christmas. But many people will spend their Christmases on the street. It’s impossible to ignore homelessness, but can the public truly understand what it’s like to be homeless? To be freezing, lonely, hungry and scared?

Westminster-based charity The Passage worked with a film-maker, Simon Waller, and Geoff Kearns, who has lived on and off the streets for four years, to produce a VR experience. It gives people the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of a rough sleeper and gives them a glimpse into what it’s like to be homeless on London’s Oxford Street, which is where many Londoners will go to do their Christmas shopping. It then switches to an underground pass at night, where they are alone and confronted by an aggressive stranger. It’s powerful stuff.

Look The Other Way from The Passage homelessness charity on Vimeo.

9. Street League – Impact Dashboard

Every charity should be transparent about how they raise money, how they spend it and what their impact is. But how many would dedicate seven years to get to the stage of having a transparent, public impact tool? Street League’s Impact Dashboard is an interactive tool using a live dataset from the past 12 months, which is updated monthly and shows exactly how the charity is doing. The charity has taken a risk with this dashboard because it doesn’t just show the good that the charity is doing, but also when it hasn’t been able to help their beneficiaries. It’s an innovative step for the sector and one that Street League hopes other charities will follow.

8. Shelter Scotland – #SocialMediaSanta

This Christmas more than 6,000 children will be homeless in Scotland, so how will Santa find them? Shelter Scotland supports hundreds of children, aged 6 months to 16 years, and is calling on people and companies to donate gifts for Christmas by becoming Social Media Santas. The campaign has been running since 2012, when Ross McCulloch of Third Sector Lab came up with the idea. Five years later and it’s still going strong. I love this campaign because it shows how social media can be used for social good.

7. Breast Cancer Now – #WearitPink

Wear it Pink day has been going since 2002 and has raised more than £30m to fund research into breast cancer. This year, Breast Cancer Now wanted to bring in a fundraising relationship approach to this mass-participation event by sending supporters personalised video content on Twitter to say "thank you" for taking part when they tweeted using #Wearitpink. The charity worked with EchoMany to create video assets that could then be personalised by bringing in a user’s name, profile picture and any picture they included in their tweet. It sent out 267 video replies throughout #Wearitpink day: nearly 50 per cent of the recipients retweeted their videos and almost 80 per cent liked them. This means that those videos then reached more than 77,000 people on Twitter.

6. #16days

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that numerous charities take part in to help end violence against women and girls. It takes place from 25 November to 10 December, ending aptly on Human Rights Day. The campaign aims to educate people about what happens around the world and on their own doorsteps, and all manner of issues are brought to the forefront, from the impact of child marriage and female genital mutilation to unwanted sexual advances and domestic violence. By joining forces, these charities are helping to educate people around the world about the issues facing women and girls and helping to end gender-based violence.

Look out for part 2 next week, when I’ll reveal my top five charity digital campaigns of 2017. Which will be the Christmas number 1?

Kirsty Marrins is a digital communications consultant and a trustee of the Small Charities Coalition

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