How to use video in your charity or NGO marketing strategy

22nd February 2022

At Hurricane we love working with charities and NGOs to communicate powerful messages that make an impact. Over the years, we’ve delivered video content for national charities such as Barnado’s, Shelter UK and the Salvation Army, as well as global organisations like IUCN, UNEP, WHO and WFP.

When it comes to marketing, video is the single biggest tool that fundraisers have to drive awareness and increase donations. However, with so many TV commercials and ads asking us to dip into our pockets and fundraise, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and make the all important connection with their audience. For marketers in the charity and NGO sector, it’s a complex landscape with many avenues to choose from.

This blog looks at our latest work in this space, to give you some inspiration on how to include video in your marketing strategy this year. We look at types of videos, where they work best and key things to consider when it comes to the audience you’re targeting.

Salvation Army: driving donations with an emotive social ad

A series of short-form social ads can be one of the most effective methods to reach new audiences and drive them to take action. If you couple this with a narrative that talks to them at an emotional level, you can drive behaviour change in your audiences in a way that no other channel can achieve.

Our recent ad for The Salvation Army’s Christmas appeal did exactly that. The charity reached out to us to bring a new approach to their 2021 Christmas video strategy and to encourage donations amongst their new and existing donors to support them at this important time of year. Our emotive social ad focuses on the real life experience of contributor, Wayne, who has directly benefited from The Salvation Army’s service – eventually enabling him to break the cycle of rough sleeping and unstable accommodation.

With only two minutes to communicate our message, it was crucial that the video made an immediate emotional connection with the audience. To achieve this, we created a narrative that visually captured and represented Wayne’s story, alongside the incredible work that The Salvation Army carries out at this time of year.

The video ad was activated through paid and organic social in the build up to Christmas with various different versions and different calls to action to maximise engagement opportunities. After one week, it had already received 2.1k reactions, 183 comments and 330 shares. When planning a social ad, it’s easy to make a video that is emotionless and ineffective, but when you tap into its storytelling and emotive potential, you can sit back and watch your campaign results soar.

World Food Programme: reaching Gen Z with your message on social

When it comes to marketing to Gen Z, a traditional approach won’t guarantee you the same results. Gen Z have different behaviours, attitudes and values – and considering these factors is key to making your charity and NGO video a success. This generation wants to be part of something bigger – encouraging them to send a text to donate isn’t enough.

An example of this approach is our strategic campaign for The World Food Programme who called on us to drive awareness of their work amongst younger audiences. We harnessed the creative power of filmmaking to tell one young man’s inspiring story – an individual Gen Z could relate to. From ideation, strategy and activation, our full digital campaign captured the spirit of activism prevalent in a generation who feel strongly about climate change while making the all important link between climate change and food security worldwide.

Our final campaign was built on the notion of ‘ownability’ and gave control to young people with a passionate call to arms, ‘#UniteToBeatHunger’.

The results speak for themselves, exceeding targets across all social media activation, but the biggest metric for success was seen in engagements, achieving 7000% over the KPI on paid activity with 2.3 million in total, within a reach of 18.8 million. On top of this, Facebook followers increased by 765,000, Instagram followers 634,000.

Key to the success of this campaign was it’s authentic voice. We knew our target audience – Gen Z – disliked being sold corporate messages so our campaign took a different approach – conveying the message that this generation has inherited climate change, yet will be the ones to face the consequences.

Shelter Christmas concert: increasing awareness and creating community with virtual events

Videos for charities can also be effective without a social advertising budget or full force strategic campaign – it can be used as a tool to amplify what you’re already doing. Charities host a whole array of events throughout the year and harnessing the power of video to capture these is a powerful way to enhance reach, making your events more accessible to those who can’t physically attend.

The pandemic showed us all the power of virtual events and now physical events are possible again, a hybrid approach can help engage both online and offline audiences.

We had the privilege of capturing Shelter UK’s 2021 Christmas concert last year. The carol service was a beautiful event and our film crew enabled the charity to take this to their online audience – capturing the spirit of community and ultimately driving more donations to fight homelesssness at this time of year.

If you have a fundraising event in your upcoming calendar, why not consider filming the event to create a shared experience for your digital audiences.

Above are just a few examples you can use as inspiration for your next charity video. The golden thread that connects them all is getting your message in front of the right people. A compelling video alone is not enough. Whether you’re trying to enhance awareness or increase donations, the video type you choose should be led by the audience you’re trying to reach. What works for Gen Z, won’t necessarily work for existing donors. A video strategy that considers all your target audiences – and produces video that connects with each of them on an emotional level – is key to driving results and maximising donations.


Looking for new ways to raise the profile of your charity?
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