You’ve heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral in June but have you heard of Aymotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease? ALS is a motor neuron disease that attacks the nerves in the spinal cord and brain.
ALS is the most common motor neurone disease, which often starts to show signs at the age of 60. There are an average of two deaths per 100,000 people each year in the UK alone and survival from onset of the disease is 3-4 years.
A pretty convincing case for support, which the Ice Bucket Challenge, that originated in the US, aimed to raise awareness and money for this disease,
but how efficient has it been?
The craze caught on with 2.4 million videos related to the ‘IBC’ on Facebook this summer, and a further 28 million people joining the conversation (either in likes, comments or posts) between June 1st and September 30th. ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ was in the news on average 78 times per day and trending by the end of August; there were more Google searches for this than for all of the searches for ‘Gaza’, ‘Ferguson’ or ‘Iraq’.
Perhaps it was a good antidote to the Malaysian airline tragedy, Ebola virus outbreak, the continued fight against ISIS, and not to mention the passing of Robin Williams and Joan Rivers! But has the feel good factor of taking part been helping charities? MNDA, the Motor Neurone Disease Association (the charity most strongly associated with ALS in the UK), has raised £7m from ice bucket donations, a sum worthy of a half seconds soaking on a warm summer’s day.
But in the context of other previous charity challenges, did ‘IBC’ actually deliver? The ‘no makeup selfie’ for CRUK raised over £8m in just 6 days and ‘Movember 2013’ raised a whopping £20.4m in just one month. Both of these suggest that the ‘IBC’ should have raised significantly more in four months of intensive activity with an estimated 20 million people taking part.
The craze is already beginning to freeze over!
How many of the IBC videos actually resulted in donations? The Charities Aid Foundation estimated of the 1 in 6 Britons that have taken part so far, only 1 in 10 have actually donated to a charity. This rings true, for the 20 million who took part, if each donated £1, the total raised would be nearer £20 million.
Thoroughly entertained, but the bottom line is that most of the videos didn’t result in giving to a good cause. And there have been environmental challenges about the amount of water used in the IBCs, particularly the one involving 40,000 litres from a dumper truck.
Overall, the IBC could have been more productive and we think:
1. Although substantial amounts were raised for ALS.org and MNDA, it is disproportionate to the number of people taking part
2. Clarity should have been given around the fundraising mechanic, as many people were confused about what to do
3. A simple branding device might well have helped the participants on either side of the challenge! Also, if the IBC had been a more successful fundraising magnet for ALS, a better-branded mechanic would have drawn less income from other charities, what William MacAskill, Vice President of Giving What We Can, calls ‘funding cannibalism’
4. The campaign has raised awareness for ‘ALS’, but not as much for Aymotrophic Lateral Sclerosis disease – next time participants would benefit from a progress report and a brief summary of the actions taken as a result of their involvement
5. From an environmental point of view, the campaign mechanics could have involved Water Aid, who themselves raised considerable funds on the back of the challenge. Water Aid raised £47,000 in one day – which is 50% higher than it has ever received in a single day before). The should have been a good well thought through partnership, involving other charities as well as, perhaps a utility company.
There are more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to fundraise than the Ice Bucket Challenge; it is definitely fun to watch but may be more of a damp squib than the cool enterprise we first thought. A bit more careful thought at the beginning could have quadruple the income raised for Aymotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and made a real difference. Will IBC ii be back next Summer – we certainly hope so.More >
Posted 7 October 2014 | No comments
It was back in 2005 that I launched the Marketing Society not-for-profit group – a small thought leadership group for charity marketing folk. The Marketing Society backed the new group and have been stellar supporters ever since of charity and cause related marketing. Little did I know then that the Society would honour me with a Fellowship all these years later. I have admired previous Fellows, and secretly each year at the ceremony, wondered how they managed to achieve their awards…
Receiving the award was a good moment to reflect on the charity sector and the work we’ve done. Above all else, the thing that stands out most is the real passion people in those organisations have for their causes and for making a difference. This, to coin the words of Greenpeace, has often meant “stopping wrongs”, which is not a bad thing to say about your day job!
A redefined Marketing Society vision is also more hands-on and about making a difference in your work; “inspiring bolder leadership” including the work to support sustainability and good causes.
Charities have also taken a long hard look at their visions to meet the needs of today’s demanding supporters who want more transparency and greater action. Macmillan are about supporting and being there for the journey with cancer, Oxfam are about changing lives for the better – lifting people out of poverty. Charities have become more action oriented around fewer issues, which is a good thing. Passion and leadership doesn’t have to come from the global North. Companies like Unilever with their 5 Levers for change and the Fairtrade Foundation, addressing sustainability and poverty, have found that people care as deeply about sustainability in emerging markets such as China and Brazil, and these countries now bring great leadership and inspiration to the table.
And organisations like Amnesty have relocated their resources to be closer to where human rights abuses are happening. There is no point in standing on the edge of the issue. I remember Blake Lee-Harwood at one event, Greenpeace’s then Director of Campaigns, telling us how Greenpeace ‘practiced what they preached’. Still guided by the words of one of the early founders, Harald Zindler – “the optimism of the action is better than the pessimism of the thought”. Today all members of Greenpeace staff are expected to ‘stop a wrong’ or to try and ‘replace it with a right’. It is simplicity and passion at work. Take their fight against Lego partnering with Shell, who are battling to dig up the Artic, and you see the same approach at work. Seb Coe talked about his role in bringing the Olympic games to Africa, one of his stated dreams, at a Marketing Society hosted evening. His vision is to make health and sport a part of everyone’s life and normalise disability in sport. I hope that the Marketing Society continue to play a pivotal role in inspiring people to see optimism and opportunity in life changing action.More >
Posted 22 September 2014 | No comments
Posted 1 September 2014 | No comments
As charity experts we care about our surroundings and the environment, even when we go on summer holidays! And we always like to learn. Some of us have children, like Giles our managing director, and others not, like myself.
There are many things we can do on holiday, here‘s a list of the things we can do during our holidays, wherever we go to the beach, up a mountain or stay at home:
1. Giles cycles every morning to work, why not leave your car at home and cycle instead? Save 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide for each mile and 240 calories saved (or lost!) per hour. This is a good way to work off all the extra ice cream you eat this summer! As our friends at cycle for summer say you ‘Feel Happier: it is scientifically proven’
2. There are plenty of delicious locally produced fruits and vegetables available this summer. Choose to eat local fruits instead of kiwis and mangos from far-flung exotic countries. The Sustainable Food Trust shows you why it is cheaper, better and how it reveals the type of person you are.
3. If you stay at home for your holidays and decide to have a good house tidy, why not give unwanted clothes, toys or furniture to charities you would like to help. We like clothes for charity who do all the hard work for you, selling your items to raise money for your selected causes and charities.
4. Discover and protect Bugs. As our friends at Buglife describe so well, many things can be done to protect bugs. Why not build a bee house? You can follow Buglife’s tutorial here and enjoy building a bee house in your garden, it’s lots of fun, and you can observe the bees all year around.
5. If you are healthy and want to feel even healthier, why not donate your blood to NHSBT? Start this Summer and give blood 3 or 4 times a year. My advice: have a big breakfast, give blood and then enjoy a treat, have some crisps or chocolate and a delicious lunch at a restaurant with a friend, who came along with you of course!
Five little things you could do to help charities and the environment. Why not, try at least one thing this Summer, which would help us and our clients too.
There are many ways to give your time, energy and happiness, strength and of course money. And if you have children, why not start the National Trust’s ‘50 things to do before they’re 11 ¾’, enjoy every moment, as they grow up so fast.
Let us know what you do during your holidays. We would love to see your photos and to improve our knowledge of ways in which we can help charities and the environment.
Posted 14 August 2014 | No comments
The figure of Guanyin (short for ‘he who listens to the cries of the world’), chose to stay on earth to help others achieve Buddhahood. It was popularised in AD 550 during the Northern Qi dynasty.
I had a chance encounter with him in The British Museum, quite an easy thing to do with over 8 million objects. This figure got me thinking about how the Internet of Things (IoT) has helped revolutionise marketing for good. The next step we are working on is to create opportunities for people where imagination is free-flow and charities’ work is supported by just thinking about the issues involved.
Charity brands increasingly connect to online communities; in times of crisis and conflict, news can touch people very fast and anywhere, which can be very effective. In many cases this is delivering the charity mission far more effectively. Back to my chance encounter with Guanyin; we are fascinated by the idea of ‘listening to the cries of the world’ and making this a central part of the IoT.
Supposedly Kevin Ashton invented the IoT, the idea is to be as close to people’s needs and even to anticipate their needs. Equipping objects with identifiers with the ability to transfer data over a network without having the human to human or to computer interaction has so many fascinating social potential. An early precursor was a Coke machine in the early 1980s; programmers connected to the machine over the Internet, checked the status of the machine to determine whether or not there would be a cold drink awaiting them, should they decide to make the trip down to the machine.
There is a world of possibilities with the different platforms. Everyone wants their own community such as Nike’s Community, which goes way beyond selling ‘runners’
The IoT should lead to greater knowledge of audiences, with less wasteful research, qualifying people’s needs. It can also be good for the environment too; British Gas’s Hive app demonstrated this, controlling your thermostat when you are not there.
Explaining how we minimise the threat to the environment or social impacts, as we order our new car, milk bottle or can of Coke is what we have been developing.
Our thinking is also how we ensure ‘imagination’ is maintained and enhanced in this incredible future – not lost by pursing needs based approaches, which we think is the crux of the matter for our clients.
How we harness the power of imagination in our relationship with supporters, Guanyin’s ‘listening to the cries of the world’, is our starting point for this great future, balancing relationship building with effective resource use.More >
Posted 23 July 2014 | No comments
Is it any easier to define what we mean by marketing for charities and NGOs? With squeezed budgets and complicated stakeholder needs, I sometimes wonder. If marketing for a charity is “to achieve organisational objectives and to bring the appropriate number of people from the agreed groups to engage and respond in a way that mutually satisfies both parties”, it’s surprising how few know their own organisational objectives, an obvious starting point for effective marketing. Fortunately, more know their own objectives and how these support the charity vision.
For today’s charities, innovation is important and effective, standout marketing. How to leverage digital touch points and to build long-term corporate partnerships with a solid shared strategic core, are also day-to-day worries.
Charity comms departments change names at a dizzying speed; from Marcomms, Supporter Engagement to Marketing, Fundraising as standalone to a merged super unit around a common digital belief! 65 years on and James “marketing mix” Culliton will be turning in his grave. He described the combination of elements involved in making any marketing decision; more commonly called the 4 ps of marketing, which have stood the test of time, it’s worth revisiting some of our vast history of marketing and how we fit in! Product, Promotion, Place and Price. And later 3 more Ps were added; People, Physical evidence and Process.
Charities deliver a staggering amount for very little resource but sometimes lack focus. Multi-million pound corporate campaigns tend to work to a much tighter bandwidth, such as changing sales by 5% with a specific audience segment.
NGOs tend to know their brands better than their audiences. Segmenting audiences, by identifying the most receptive moments to engage with people and mapping out user journeys would be a critical part to improving supporters and the charities focus.
We’re delighted that four of the ten most effective UK charities cited in the recent ‘Passionate About Collaboration’ report, which identified the UK’s most effective NGOs, are our clients, based on responses from over 100 NGO Chief Executives. Our approach chimes with the report’s main conclusions, which is to be more effective with reach and impact.
We are lucky enough to have worked with some of the very best marketing teams in the charity world from Fairtrade to Buglife – this we believe comes from a love of their organisation and a belief in what they can do.More >
Posted 16 July 2014 | No comments
Ever since Prometheus gave the gift of fire, energy has transformed the way we live. Burning fires gave us the means to cook our food, heat our homes, transport our goods and provided us with light and entertainment.
The Fires are about to go out and our other options are challenging; the dash to gas has suddenly got more expensive as our local supplies diminish (and surely mining shale gas will interfere with the planet’s subterranean structures?) and coal emits far too much climate changing carbon dioxide.
And don’t forget, some European countries are using as much as 80% of Russian gas, making them far too dependent on Russia.
Threatened with blackout by 2015, what are our options?
Have Energy Days
Energy Days are being arranged throughout Europe in the month of June – part of the solution is to reduce our dependence on electricity. Therefore, by choosing to modify an every day activity, we challenge ourselves to think differently about our energy usage, such as:
Measure how much electricity you save, how much money you save and how much better you feel. You should be healthier and wealthier.
Set ambitious UK targets for our tidal power
The US has, surprisingly, some interesting targets, California aims to have no non-renewable energy in use by 2020. Texas, the once mighty oil state, is set to become the world’s 5th largest supplier of wind energy. India is to build the world’s largest solar plant to generate 4,000 mw from sunlight near the Sambhar lake in Rajasthan. Let’s set some ambitious UK targets. Out of the twenty sites identified worldwide suitable for tidal power, eight of these are in the UK and could supply 20% of our energy requirements. Tidal Energy encourages state investment to finance tidal power schemes, until they move into surplus and when are likely to provide a profit for an indefinite period.
Innovation needs encouragement
The new Catapult UK technology centres are a great place for innovative companies and individuals to develop their ideas. We need more of these so that renewable energy can be explored and reach it’s full potential. Waiting in the wings are solutions such as, cleaner coal stations, microgeneration and community energy suppliers of CHP, PV & Solar.
Pedal your own power or Plug on your window – what a great idea.
The socket offers a neat way to harness solar energy and use it as a plug socket. We’ve not seen any as direct as this plug-in.
So the future is an energy mix, a mix of consumer demand and different types of energy.
Wind, Solar, Sea have always been at our disposal, think of windmills and watermills grinding corn, and new innovative versions, which could replace our dependence on fossil fuels (but without emitting destructive CO2).
Live Smarter. Greener. Fairer.More >
Posted 30 May 2014 | No comments
Posted 29 April 2014 | No comments
Four new mega charity TV ads have come out in the last few weeks. Save the Children, Barnardo’s, Age UK and Macmillan. It’s a tough time for most charities but these four look well funded.
But do they deliver and communicate the mission? Which is often tough as most charities deliver their mission through policy work. Let’s find out.
“If London was Syria” for Save the Children, with Natasha Kaplinsky, is all about the effects of war with the line ‘just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening”. Coinciding with three years after the Syria Crisis began (yes three years!), this is bang on Save the Children’s mission, about saving children’s lives, helping when disasters strike and giving them the best start. My only beef, the idea of wars in your backyard was done better in a Costwolds village scene in Unwatchable, a story about conflict minerals in Congo.
Next up is Barnardo’s new TV ad about Ellie’s life of being told ‘she’s no good’ and her desperate need to make some things stop, which can all be ‘conquered’ with Barando’s support. ‘Believe in children’ is exactly what this is about and again in the sweet spot for their mission.
‘Life flies’, the beautiful new ad from Age UK, is about being valued. It shows life’s journey from ‘0-100’. I love this ad. I wanted to donate immediately to Age UK. It’s clever, enjoy life’s journey, as it goes in a blink, so you may as well enjoy it all. Age UK aims to improve ‘later life’ for everyone and this TV ad is all about making the most of later life.
‘No one should face cancer alone’ from Macmillan Cancer Support goes from strength to strength, showing the importance of support to those who need it most. And it quietly celebrates those who ‘support’ the most; mums, donors, careers, at one point all in one scene – it doesn’t get more powerful. No one should face cancer alone and Macmillan Cancer Support strives to improve the lives of people affected with cancer. Mission accomplished.
All four ads do deliver the mission. Seeing the extraordinary in the everyday. Agencies love charity work, they mine for an insight, a minutia blown up to dramatise how your money can help.
Posted 28 March 2014 | No comments
He sees the world through the prism of doing good – which is refreshing. Particularly in our times where cut backs are made, corners are cut and the squeeze usually hits the people at the bottom of the tree, most likely workers in the developing world.
He asked us all to do things that make a difference to others within our work. He appealed for people to see their roles as bigger than the day job – to have a vision that connects with part of the world. Like Unilever and Sainsbury’s doing their bit, he showed ASOS’s and newer brands of today how they could show more responsibility.
What advice can we take from Richard Curtis:
- You have to have the confidence in what you are doing
- As a creative, achieving one good thing in day is a triumph (but you have to have the ability to self edit)
- The thing that amuses you will probably work
- Pick the right people – the wrong people can lead to angst
- Empower others do to creative things
- There is a rare exceptions to David Ogilvy’s “where people aren’t having any fun, they seldom produce good work” with Black Adder, which was apparently ghastly to work on and Mr Bean, which was awful to work on too.
- Mine data audience insights but leave room for big instinct, which you can not ignore
- And if something is meaningful, it probably means it matters.
Posted 11 February 2014 | No comments