Unwrapped Project: a good case of charity using SEO

“Click Consult has won one of marketing’s most prestigious awards – The Drum Search Award for Best Charity/Not for Profit Campaign for SEO – for its innovative search campaign for Oxfam Unwrapped, featuring social media, earned media and design work.” SEO can play a great role when used correctly, together with blogger engagement and social amplification. When the charity’s website is easy to navigate and reach through the search engine, it makes easier to foster a conversation with the potential donor.  Many high profile charities are now using SEO tools to outreach to more audience  and to increase awareness on their cause.


#Blogger: When influence goes bad

The case of Belle Gibson has resurfaced today as she is facing a legal action in Australia over “deceptive conduct”, that may cost her and her company “The Whole Pantry” around a million. The blogger was very popular and gained people trust through social media, and she promised charities donations, raised through her app and book, which has never been made. Questions had been raised that led to the discovery of her faking her illness ,  a brain cancer, to gain more sympathy. Even more troubling the fact that she pretended to get cured without conventional treatment, through simply an healthy lifestyle and diet, misleading many of her followers who might had left their chemotherapy as a result of her statements.

It has been suggested she suffers from Munchausen Syndrome, a psychiatric disorder  for which people fake  illness to draw attention and sympathy (named after the 18th century German baron famous for embellishing tales of his military exploits to anyone who’d listen), and interestingly but not surprising, if that were true, she would appear to be not the first blogger to suffer from such problem. Another famous cases include Lacey Spears,  who went to the extreme of killing her own child to gain media attention, Kaycee Nicole, who used to pretend to be teenager with Leukaemia! Trust in the space of Internet is  valuable and volatile currency, and the lack of proper screening is not uncommon  characteristic for online personalities. Charities need to be aware of this fact when approaching influencers.


Twitter for charities

Today an article by Rohan Hewavisenti  advised charities to take advantage of twitter as a fundraising tool, highlighting an interesting advantage of the platform.  He listed few examples of success, like the Cancer Research UK campaign #nomakeupselfie, which  raised over £8m, or the #icebucketchallenge which helped in raising over £ 7m for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, to which it can be added the more recent and interesting case of Laura Darrall, whose campaign  #itaffectsme, aimed to raise awareness for mental health issues, went rapidly viral.

The article points out how there are “no restrictions or permissions required to fundraise via Twitter or other social media”. He might refer to a new regulation, the “Fundraising Preference Service” that unable people to opt out from all telephone and mail fundraising.    


Glasgow: American Teens to the rescue?

The video is part of a fundraising campaign that went wrong.

Two American siblings decided to rise money for Glasgow as they proclaimed “we are planing to participate with local youth, sharing a message of hope and goodwill with energy and enthusiasm”. According to them “this could turn the situation around” for Glasgow referring to the poor state of the city and the Glasgow effects.

The video went viral reaching the Scots who were angered and offended with the siblings’ description of their city. Most likely they just wanted to raise a money for a nice trip to Glasgow, and maybe volunteering for a bit, but they didn’t expect that their message will reach out the scots turning them into unwelcome guests.  Lesson: plan and research your content before it goes live.

Likes don’t save lives

The video shows two famous Swedish personalities trying to pay food with likes.

UNICEF viral campaign “Likes don’t save lives”  in 2013 took a direct approach to remind people that liking or retweeting does not mean donation. People often tend to view social media as entertainment source rather than a serious platform for donating their money. People believe that they helped by clicking the “like” button. UNICEF’s ad helps in raising awareness to not stop at clicking but to go further and act. The ad was extremely successful and it helped the vaccination of 637 324 children against polio, showing that social media can educate and effectively reach people.

Matt Collins pointed out in the guardian how the high volume of messages exchanged at any time on social networks makes the charity only able to reach  2.6 % of their audience with their message, and victim of a staggeringly high bounce rate, going as far as suggesting to abandon social media marketing altogether.  His article touches many aspects that are probably true and not just for charities: recently DeRay McKesson hoped  he can turn his 330,000 followers into at least 20,000 votes in the mayoral race for Baltimore,obtaining instead a mere total of 3077. Does this mean that social media shouldn’t be used by charities or organisations? Going back to UNICEF success with their campaign, one may argue that it was mainly to be attributed to UNICEF established name, however I believe being aware of social media limitations and specificities informed the campaigned and in doing so enabled the organisation to best capitalise on their social media presence.


#Secret No More



Although I’m an advocate of social media, I also understand how the characteristic features can be a double edged swords. This is especially true when it comes to the phenomenon of peer pressure, as for example some studies indicate that teens who are constantly  visiting social networks might be more likely to adopt poor habits, such as smoking, drinking. This danger is amplified by the anonymity that online identities can offer.  Just two days ago, the Secret, an anonymous texting app startup officially announced they were closing their service, which its insider platform to break out news such as Ever notes acquisition. The company wasn’t short of earning but according to its CEO David Byttow “Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company”. The app was meant to create a safe space for people to spread information and safely share opinions but it came to the headlines instead for spreading unfounded news. 

A similar app “Yik Yak”, which also keeps the user identity anonymous, has been used instead in very creative and positive ways. For example, it has been recently used to educated youth on HIV by a nonprofit (What Works in Youth HIV), which  employed strategically to spread knowledge not just for HIV prevention but also to help remove the social stigma still attached to  being HIV positive. Another positive case of the use of Yik Yak  was its role in preventing suicide attempts at colleges . There is a clear potential for these kind of apps to reach out youth and be used for the social good, however, just as equally there is a potential for offering powerful outlets to a darker side of our society, where lying, cyberbullying, harassments can be dangerously empowered. This leads to hard questions in regards to the cost-benefit balance for these new technologies, where a a bigger moral responsibilities is placed on the user, compared to traditional media.

persuasive content a new drive for charities

The Guardian explores how a quality of ruthlessness was used in some famous slogans for important causes made to effectively make a deep impression and captured their attention and support. The article emphasises on the importance of considering emotions as the secret ingredient for the success of a campaign. Emotional content connects audience to the organisation’s ads and urges people into acting.

This brings me to Nathalie Nahai, a web psychologist and international speaker, keynote from last week #SEObrighton conference. Charities need to design  a persuasive toolkit that Nathalie  articulates in the three phases: grab, provoke, convert; transforming your audience in active participants (either buyers or donors) is just as essencial and requires just as planning as engaging your audience. To do so it’s important to understand the phycology of decision making: unsurprisingly, decision making to take action is an emotional process. ‘Trust’ is another factor which is important to consider while trying to get people to take an action, and to get your audience’s trust you need to establish a construct your message based on homophily, as people  get attracted to others who share the same values as them. Thus, for an effective communication demographic and psychographic research is essential.

CrowdRise and expense transparency

Last week, Lord Gus O’Donnell speaking at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) annual conference, emphasised the need to clarify for donors how the funds are being spent. Calling for transparency and embracing “the insights of behavioural approaches and focusing on raising our impact”. The donors’ demand for transparency is ever-growing, a trend only increased by online media, and it has been recognised at the NCVO as one of the main vehicles to success.

From the CrowdRise platform comes a good tip on how transparency, along with educating the donors about the overhead costs, can be translates in the little aspects connected to giving. The platform is a hub of great ideas for how to use technology for fundraising, and a great example of how really investing in the interface between charity and donor can produce exponential returns.

Edward Norton is the Hollywood face behind CrowdRise, which aims to help connecting people to causes through social media, facilitating and maximising the individual fundraising effort. CrowdRise tries to combine the more entertaining part of social networking with fundraising for charitable causes. One of their most famous features is the “giving tower”, an ambitious Virtual Reality experience, easily accessible through a free app, which showed during Giving Tuesday a tower made of “donations” growing amongst recognisable buildings, according to the number of donation received through the platform over the day. It is an innovative experiment of how online technology can be used not just as a communication tool but also as an entertainment device aimed to boost interest around the organisation.

On a smaller scale, but somehow of potentially greater impact and interest, is another interesting feature of CrowdRise website: once reached the checkout stage, the donor can opt to pay just the amount he decided to donate, or to also include the administrative fees. It’s a very little gimmick but effective in its simplicity, as it immediately shows the donor how charities are bound to credit card and service fees like any other business, and exactly in which proportion.


Fundraising: donors segmentation

The shift from traditional fundraising methods (telephone or direct mail) to digital platforms goes a more granular understanding of your donors. In the video Richard Craig, Technology Trust CEO, explains how he segmented the people to reach in as much as six different groups, to which he assigned individual media strategies using different networks. Social media platform allow to be smarter and more targeted in the way organisation can choose to communicate to their audience, but this requires a deeper understanding of how to define the different groups, and which platforms are more effective for each. Data such as age, gender, location, house cost, friends, likes are all collected to create a tailored engagement plan that can respond to the individual type of donor, and possibly even foster a one to one relationship.


The Story of #FindAzam

This video has been published 5 months ago, but the message it’s still somehow relevant. It is a story of hope for all of those who got separated from family, friends, loved ones because of any kind of natural calamity or humanitarian crises. The combination of simple tools, such an hashtag Twitter campaign to spread the word to those who can help reach the person who’s been lost, and the use of Facebook images to identify her/his location can be incredibly effective in such circumstances.