Experiential charity marketing: so much more than chugging!

Global Angels Experiential Campaign We all know what its like to be confronted by a charity fundraiser, as are we aware of tried and tested retorts to escape their annoyingly persistent wrath. Surely there are better methods of fundraising for worthwhile and needy causes that don’t turn consumers away in aggravation?

A recent London Borough of Islington debate has stirred the ‘chugging’ moral dilemma. With the borough on the brink of banning charity canvassers due to local resident outrage towards persistent disturbances, a rethink of charity marketing strategies is long overdue.

The thing is, people are not uncharitable. According to the 2010/11 UK Giving report, 6/10 UK adults donated a total of £11 billion last year alone. However, pestering people into donating not only creates annoyance, but additionally disreputes the charity in the eyes of those who are unlucky enough to run into a chugger! As a representative of the Islington Chamber of Commerce commented regarding charitable giving, “there are better ways of doing it than using ‘chuggers’ who seem to undermine the brands of the very charities that they are supposed to be helping”. So, what are the best alternative platforms for charities to adopt, and what are the implications?

Internet and Technology hit the third sector


The ongoing online and technological revolution has had an unrivalled impact upon worldwide business, and the third sector is no exception. Coined by Philanthropy UK as the ‘democratisation of giving’, digital philanthropy has the potential to encourage millions of people from around the world to donate simultaneously towards a cause. This creates an online experience of giving, uniting people with a cause that has the potential to spread exponentially through social media platforms.

With new media platforms ‘instrumental’ to the £50 million raised in just 2 weeks following the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake, and Oxfam naming the 2010 Pakistan floods as the “first social media emergency” due to the overwhelming online response, charities would be foolish if they didn’t sit up and take notice.

According to an nfpSynergy report, there are notable indications that charities have developed a more holistic view towards fundraising, considering the wider picture to generate long term relationships. With social media and online transparency allowing direct two-way communication with consumers, it is no wonder that 66.5% of sampled charities are now using Facebook and Twitter to engage people in a real time educational and fundraising capacity.

Additionally, mobile technologies and QR codes have become a fundamental marketing platform, which charities have began to implement to great effect. Fundadora Proanimal Chile demonstrated an incredibly moving example of the benefits of mobile social movements, attaching QR codes around the necks of hundreds of stray dogs facing a mass cull. In this way, the animals were given a ‘voice’ with a message that was easily shared across social media, helping to highlight their plight. With mobile internet usage predicted to take over from desktop usage by 2014, more philanthropic focus should be placed upon this form of technology as a viable and logical communicative route to pursue.

Experiential charity campaigning


Offline charity collection efforts additionally translate far beyond street canvassing. By providing consumers with an experience, challenge, competition or surprise, they are incentivised to donate through compassion rather than pressure! Early memorable examples of experiential fundraising include Bob Geldof’s iconic 1985 Live Aid concert, which rallied musical talent in order to raise over £110 million by broadcasting to 1.5 billion people worldwide.

Experiential shock tactics, physically demonstrating the end-result of donations can be an excellent resource to encourage people to part with their money. Rather than demanding cash with no acknowledgement of implementation, this method is successful in helping people to experience and envisage where their money will be put to use.

Take the unique ‘Half for Happiness’ supermarket campaign in Brazil. By creatively highlighting the impact of donations through selling half packets of food at full price, 50% of the amount paid was donated to malnutrition charity Casa do Zezinho. An additional simple yet poignant campaign by the Global Angels charity, demonstrated- with an actor tripping and dropping groceries in the street- that people are more than willing to stop and ‘help someone nearby’, yet are less responsive to ‘help someone far away’.

With greater technological advancements, fundraising experiences can also be more targeted than ever. The fantastic “Because I’m a Girl” campaign from Plan UK, involves a female only billboard. Highlighting the fact that the girls in many third world countries do not have the option to go to school and gain an equal education to their male peers, the billboard uses facial recognition technology to show women only campaign video. On the other hand, any male viewers are redirected to a dedicated informative website, demonstrating “a glimpse of what it’s like to have basic choices taken away”.

Hotcow’s philanthropic approach


Here at Hotcow, we strongly believe in making every experience sensational, to stand out from the crowd and grab the whole-hearted attention of passers by. Never is this sentiment more true than in a charitable marketing capacity. With widespread negative attitude towards street canvassers, charities can implement experiential live elements to differentiate their campaign from such associations, and generate mass buzz around their campaign.

5 tips to donation success


Segmentation: Use the most appropriate marketing channels to reach your accurately segmented target audience, appealing to their specific needs and desires.

Integration: Making the most of multiple channels can lead to strong widespread campaigns, integrating online and offline platforms to spread your message exponentially

Experiences: People will be incentivised to give on the basis of a positive, out-of-the-box experience as opposed to feeling pressurised, making the experience and associated charity positively memorable

Relationship: Aim to develop strong and lasting 2 way relationships with your consumers, to ensure repeat donations and longterm loyalty

Realism: Visual cues representing the end result of fundraising efforts will help to add a sense of realism to your campaign, bringing it to life in the eyes of target philanthropists


Want to make your next charity campaign sensational, differentiated and attention-grabbing? Contact Hotcow for all of your experiential marketing needs.

Hotcow is a multi-award winning brand engagement agency specialising in experiential marketing. Our mission is simple: to help brands understand the power of “experience-based marketing” and offer expertise in how to develop, plan and execute campaigns in the right way to get the right results.

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