- Thu, December 08 2011
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
Today’s New York Times has a story on charity campaigns that seek to convince shoppers to add charity to their lists this holiday.
Exhibit one is the American Red Cross, which has a new ad campaign with the message “Give something that means something.” A claymation figure named Fred is shown burdened with shopping bags and contemplating a more meaningful gift – the gift of time, money or a donation in someone’s name.
Exhibit two is Oxfam America’s “Unwrapped” holiday giving campaign with “gifts” such as water pumps for the poor. It and a plethora of similar campaigns are at least in part inspired by Heifer International, which largely pioneered this approach with its catalog of gifts like cows and chicks for families in need.
Here’s what I like about these campaigns:
1. They are relevant and timely: Everyone is thinking about the holidays and gift giving, so these campaigns connect nicely with top-of-mind consumer concerns and behaviors.
2. They avoid guilt and highlight joy: What the American Red Cross campaign and others do well is not to attack gift giving but rather to celebrate the merits of adding the gift of charity. I think that’s wise in influencing behavior.
3. They have an emotional core: This is critical, especially as more and more research - as shown by the Boston Globe this week - shows that making an emotional connection is critical to encouraging giving.
4. They emphasize tangibility to capture both the heart and the head: The Heifer-like approaches highlight on a human scale the very specific ways a gift to charity can change a life. This is good fundraising practice from two perspectives: it’s emotionally engaging and it makes donors feel their gift is being put to good use.
In terms of areas of improvement, the Red Cross campaign could use a little more tangibility in my view, and I find it hard to feel emotionally engaged with Fred. I’m not sure clay tells the best story of their amazing work, but they have the tone right.
I’m certainly rooting for all of these campaigns. This December, we need people to be as inspired to give as possible.