Kirsty Marrins: Top 10 digital charity campaigns of 2018, part 1

The countdown of the annual hotly anticipated list begins

Kirsty Marrins
Kirsty Marrins

This article has been amended. See below

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on 2018 and take a look at how charities used digital to raise awareness, fundraise and campaign. Here’s part one of my top 10 charity digital campaigns of the year.

10. #YouMadeItHappen

It’s only fitting to start the top 10 with a campaign that involved thousands of charities demonstrating their impact and saying "thank you" to those who supported them.

The campaign, which took place on 19 November, was the brainchild of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which worked alongside CharityComms, the Small Charities Coalition, the FSI, the Institute of Fundraising and Acevo, and was supported by Lightful. It encouraged charities to use the power of their shared networks to demonstrate the impact that charities make. The idea was also to show, collectively, the impact that the sector has on society.

The NCVO reported that, on Twitter alone, #YouMadeItHappen reached 5.4 million people and was tweeted or retweeted from nearly 10,000 accounts. That’s pretty amazing.

9. Time to Change – #AskTwice

Every year, one in four people will experience a mental health problem, and speaking about it is still really difficult for many. Time to Change launched a campaign, #AskTwice, to encourage people not to accept "I’m fine" as an answer when asking friends how they are. Instead, if they don’t seem ok, ask them twice.

The campaign included a series of videos, including one of the comedian Russell Kane driving a taxi and talking to passengers about the importance of having a face-to-face conversation or a telephone call, rather than just asking a friend if they’re ok by text.

The two main campaign videos used humour to tackle an important issue. There was also a set of graphics and other videos encouraging people to #AskTwice, and a landing page on the website that gave people five simple steps to start that conversation.

8. Wouldn’t Change A Thing – 50 mums | 50 kids | 1 extra chromosome

What started with a video turned into a charity! Fifty mums who are part of an online support group for parents whose children have Down's Syndrome got together to make a video with their kids to mark World Down’s Syndrome Day.

The video is in the style of a carpool and sees the mums and their kids sign along to the song A Thousand Years by Christina Perri. One of the mums got the idea from watching videos by Singing Hands, a group that does nursery rhymes in Makaton, a form of sign language. Their aim was to challenge perceptions of Down’s Syndrome and show that they #WouldntChangeAThing.

The video quickly went viral and has had more than five million views to date (a million in the first week). Because of the success and positivity of the video, they’ve now set up a charity called Wouldn’t Change A Thing. Their aim is to "try to achieve a world where negative, outdated perceptions of Down’s Syndrome are a thing of the past".

7. Greenpeace – Save Rang-tan

You might recognise this as Iceland’s Christmas advert, but actually this is a Greenpeace campaign that was launched back in August. The campaign aims to make people aware that 25 orangutans are killed every day because their forest homes are destroyed to clear the way for palm oil production. Greenpeace is calling on people to sign a petition to pressure companies, such as Unilever and Nestlé, to ensure there is no deforestation in their palm oil supply chain.*

It produced an animated video, voiced by the actor Emma Thompson, that tells the story of Rang-tan, who was forced to flee her home and ended up in a little girl’s bedroom.

More than 1.25 million people have signed the petition. With Iceland having broadcast the video it’s reached millions of people and, more importantly, Iceland has removed all palm oil from its own branded products.

6. British Red Cross – 100th anniversary of the First World War

To mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the British Red Cross produced a series of videos to highlight and celebrate the role of Red Cross volunteers during the conflict, the majority of whom were women.

As well as videos, it painstakingly colourised photos from their archive, which were featured in the Daily Telegraph. A number of influential historians, including Mary Beard and Dan Snow, shared the photos on their Twitter accounts.

The videos and colourised photos really brought to life the amazing work that these Red Cross volunteers did during the Great War. I’m currently the interim social media manager at the British Red Cross, but this campaign was already planned and in production when I started.

Look out for part 2 next week, when I’ll reveal my top five charity digital campaigns of 2018. What will be this year’s Christmas number 1?

Kirsty Marrins is a digital communications consultant

* 7 Dec 2018: This paragraph originally said: Greenpeace is calling on people to sign a petition to stop companies, such as Unilever and Nestlé, using palm oil in their products.

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