Charity’s marketing strategies will fail unless they shed the fear of their content failing

13th October 2020

Let’s talk about failure.

In fact, let’s talk about a phrase we’ve all heard and probably used: failure is not an option.

It’s a curious saying, as though someone somewhere is touting ‘failure’ among a list of acceptable business choices to consider. For charities, NGO’s and Not For Profit organisations of all shapes and sizes, having the faith to embrace risk (and with it the chance of failing) is the best hope of continuing to make an impact during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

We’ll talk about taking risks with video content marketing, but I’ll come on to that once we’ve addressed the several large elephants currently wandering around the room.

Elephant 1: Knocking on doors and approaching people in the street are highly effective marketing tactics for the charity sector. Correction: were highly effective strategies. Some principle pillars of fighting Covid are not mobilising your workforce, not visiting people unnecessarily, not chatting to people in the street. To do otherwise might be irresponsible, and it could certainly put out the wrong message.

Elephant 2: Big ticket fundraisers are off. Oh, hang on… small ticket fundraisers are off too. Raffles, auctions, dinners, events, fetes and cream teas: off. Kaput, done, over. They’ll be back, but no one knows when.

Elephant 3: No one thinks everyone’s going to be financially better off after the pandemic. Pockets will be shallower, purse strings will be tighter. It means charities may have to work harder which, given the other two elephants, may prove challenging.

You’re reading this because you want to know how to make online charity content work harder. The good news is you’re in the right place. The bad news is that you might not like the answer: you need to embrace all the wonderful possibilities of failure.

The world is changing. Has changed. It won’t pop back into the same shape after the pandemic passes. It’s a new reality and that calls for a new way of communicating – a new voice – to reach people and connect with them on their own emotional terms. We need to find new ways to talk to people, a new tone. And we should be exploring all the options, even if they look daunting.

That doesn’t mean clearing out the cupboards. By all means take a look at what you’ve done in the past. Work out if that can be reused, repurposed, refined, recycled. But look at how it connected with people in the past. Then ask questions about the future. Be curious. And be brave about launching new content into a world full of unknowns.

It’s by taking brave steps that video content for charities & not for profit organisations can cut through. By testing and reacting you will be able to develop a strong voice in the post Covid world. That means creating content to touch people, and finding out what reaches them and what doesn’t. To use another pandemic phrase: test, test, test. Embrace the new, embrace change, but watch to see what happens. Not everything will work. Some things – whisper it – will fail. And that, to bastardise Robert Frost, will make all the difference.


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If you’re looking for brave new ways to reach your audience with strategic video then get in touch today.

Ask us about video campaign for a NFP, NGO or charity


Can’t film real people? Make an animated video and test it. Are messages not hitting home? Do something more honest and test it. Can’t do the annual major donor event? Run a virtual event and test it. Need to tell people more? Start running webinars and test them.

Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Keep on keeping on. Please. Keep on doing the things that make a difference. Retain the parts of your marketing strategy that continue to fly during Covid. But look beyond what is proven to work.

Don’t fear failure, only fear not being willing to fail in order to find out what works.

Shelter is the perfect example of a charity that runs brave content. They came to Hurricane to develop more emotional fundraising to run alongside their static campaigns. Together we developed three personal stories that told brave, raw narratives. Our target from Shelter was to drive up donations by 25% on their previous best film. We drove it up by 370%. In the process, the films we created drove a 257% uplift in revenue on previous content campaigns. Taking risks, and not being afraid to try new things, were core to Shelter’s success.


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We want to help charities understand their next steps. If your charity or non-profit organisation would like advice on marketing with video, animation or motion graphics, please get in touch.

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