Charity campaigns have been around for a long time. Even charity perpetuated by social media isn’t a new thing. After all, Movember hit social media in 2011 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. Once the reserve of ale swigging mid 20 year olds looking to normalize horrific upper lip fashion faux pas, in 2013, Movember spread to the wider population with more reserved gentlemen and the fairer sex getting involved.  

It is only recently that a new generation of charity campaigns that give everyone a chance to easily get involved have hit the web.

The idea is that you take a photo or video of yourself completing a task that can be easily copied by a wide range of people. You then ‘donate’ this to a cause, offer some money and post the result in a nice social media friendly package. Then, if your post captures the imagination of a sufficient amount of people, clone photos or videos will begin to pop up. To keep the chain going, friends are often challenged to complete the same task and so begins a viral charity campaign.

Increasingly in recent years, sensing that such charity campaigns are on trend, famous faces have become involved in online charity campaigns. For example, Wayne Rooney recently threw a bucket at his wife as part of the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge. Presumably he misunderstood the concept slightly.

So with charity campaigns gaining popularity across a variety of mediums, they appear to be here to stay. But what are the top charity of campaigns of 2014? We take a look at the two most prominent to find out.


'No make-up selfie'

Cause: Cancer Research UK

Amount Raised: £8 million [1]

This campaign involved (mainly) women posting bare faced selfies to social media to raise awareness and money for Cancer Research UK. This started off as a support campaign for women criticized for their looks and also offered an ironic twist on the selfie craze, ridiculing people who posted selfies of themselves on social media.

Following the success of the concept, users were encouraged to donate money to Cancer Research UK alongside their no makeup selfie photo. With celebrities such as Lady Gaga getting involved the campaign was a success, with £8m raised and significant rises in website traffic and footfall at Cancer Research UK shops.


ALS Association – Ice Bucket Challenge

Cause: ALS Association

Amount Raised: $13.8 million and ongoing

This campaign involved (brave) people getting drenched in ice cold water to raise awareness for the ALS Association in the US – a charity undertaking research on Lou Gaering’s disease. It started in July as a challenge between friends, with Charles Kennedy, the original participant donating the money raised to the ALS Association. Through nominating US football star Tom Brady to complete the challenge, the campaign went viral.

The original rule was that a donation of $100 is made reduced to $10 for the successful completion of the Ice Bucket Challenge. With celebrities such as David Beckham and Bill Gates on board, the campaign has the backing of the rich and famous and the media, and the $13.8 million raised continues to increase at the time of writing. [2]


In summary…

Despite the money raised, online charity campaigns have attracted some criticism such as the fact that people may decide to take part, but ultimately not donate, making it just another tool for an increasingly narcissistic online society.

However, there is no doubting the awareness and money raised by these campaigns and given that this is a new space and not replacing existing campaigns, the additional exposure can only be welcome for charities. The use of social media also helps engage a younger audience, with the hope that they will offer a lifetime of engagement with the charity.

It will certainly be interesting to see what the next charitable campaign on social media will be and whether there will be continued enthusiasm. Either way, given the success of getting people involved, offering a more interactive experience could well herald the future for marketing campaigns – both charitable and non-charitable.

Ice Bucket Challenge

Wayne Rooney delivers the ice and bucket!