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Creativity and trends: What’s next for Charity communications?

4 June 2021

No-one anticipated what 2020 had in store. Charities had to rethink the way they fundraised, communicated and delivered services. The pandemic pushed the digital trend through the roof and innovation was stretched to new limits, as charities tried to navigate a new world.

As we edge closer towards normality, we can safely say that many things have changed irreversibly. Here we take a look at the new opportunities, trends and platforms charities should be strategically embracing in 2021 and beyond, as well as how they can overcome new challenges and build back better.

Strategic Brand Partnerships

Consumers are demanding better social practices from brands, propelling a trend towards strategic charity partnerships. Choosing an organisation with shared values and relevant influence are important success factors, as well as thinking broadly and communicating openly about what each party can offer.

A great example of a brand partnership with clear thinking behind it is that between McVities and Mind, who share the aim to get the nation talking. This campaign is about the impact of everyday conversations, and McVities is the perfect household brand to make those moments happen. Mind have benefited from the brand’s reach and McVities have affirmed the biscuit ritual as something much more valuable. With more strategy comes greater impact.

Out-of-Home Advertising

As restrictions ease, charities should make the most of busier streets and the desire for tangible experiences. With the public feeling particularly awakened to their surroundings and connected with their local area, there is a real opportunity for experimental comms to inspire and engage.

Open spaces and walls within cities have been reclaimed by the public throughout the pandemic, with a visible shift from commercial to more creative and community-focused messaging. Black Outdoor Art (#blackoutdoorart) is a social initiative using ad space as a platform for positive Black expression. It aims to inspire discussion, activism and change, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and shows how the physical space can become a powerful messaging platform.

https://twitter.com/TheDesignFix/status/1392002584773341185

Innovations in digital out-of-home advertising are also creating more opportunity for interactive and integrated campaigns, with location and time factors helping to reach targeted audiences. The British Dyslexia Association ran a campaign to encourage more dyslexic-friendly work spaces. Using facial detection technology, the text and words became more jumbled the longer people spent looking at it. This is a great example of innovation creating an engaging and educational experience.

Hybrid Events

As charities start to return to face-to-face events, a hybrid model can enable them to retain the benefits of online events, such as increased reach and accessibility. Using digital components within a physical venue, such as streamed speakers and audiences, online feedback forms and networking tools, can enhance the success of events whilst enabling the benefits of a physical venue and the all-important human interaction. Virtual platforms such as Hubilo and Grip are on the rise, and are designed to help you build experiential, hybrid events.

Last year, the London Marathon was restricted to elite runners only. In order to ensure fundraisers could still participate, an online event ran alongside. 37,966 runners took part in last year’s virtual event and broke a world record for ‘most users to run a remote marathon in 24 hours’. This year, the event is set to be another hybrid event, renewing accessibility for individuals out of London to take part and aiming to involve yet another record breaking number.

https://twitter.com/LondonMarathon/status/1395458575317807104

Podcasts

Podcasts have seen substantial growth over the past year, with more of us working from home. Podcasts enable us to multitask, and are cheap and fast to produce enabling a fresh stream of content. Charities use podcasts in a number of different ways; to engage donors in their cause, provide valuable support for their beneficiaries and promote wider conversations.

Stories Of Change podcast by charity Frontline allows people and organisations bringing about social change to tell their personal stories. You hear from them directly about the impact they are making and how you can apply their experience to social work. In doing so they hope listeners will join the conversation around improving the lives of children and families. This is a great example of how podcasts can educate, and uncover the important work and stories behind charities.

Documentaries

In today’s climate of fake news, people are looking for reliable sources to educate themselves on important issues. Good documentary films are in-depth, informative resources and are compelling to watch. Documentary makers have cottoned-on to the power of storytelling, incorporating great cinematography, character-led narratives and suspense to grab the attention of mainstream audiences.

The success of documentaries such as Seaspiracy and Kiss The Ground demonstrates that audiences have the appetite for in-depth content surrounding social issues. The scale of platforms such as Netflix has enabled these films to reach a huge audience and become powerful springboards for important conversations. Creating content that people will talk about in-depth and share with others can have a significant impact. Charities should therefore be thinking seriously about how they can create documentaries to spark meaningful action.

Short Videos and the Rise of Reels

Get ready for the reels, ie bitesize video streams based on algorithms. TikTok started this trend, and its exponential growth has now seen other platforms such as YouTube and Instagram follow suit. Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts mirror the short, fun video format of TikTok, offering nonprofits new opportunities to engage with new and existing supporters. The ease of capturing video and enhancing it with audio and added visuals gives this format an entertaining edge and helps to engage a younger audience.

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have used Instagram Reels to offer quick, fun recipes to promote a vegan lifestyle. Through simple tips the charity is providing ways for their audience to change behaviours in an enjoyable way.

Gaming

Gaming is a huge and growing industry, and many charities have tapped into its potential, via platforms such as Twitch. The capability to immerse players creates opportunities to build strong emotional connections and its ability to reach and educate a younger generation makes it a force worth reckoning with. Watch this space.

It’s astonishing to see how charities have adapted and evolved with remarkable resilience over the past year. As we move into a new phase, we hope to see charities carry forward their achievements and creativity and embrace the opportunities to come.

Banner image: Joshua Coleman on Unsplash

Sophie Cooke

content producer, 2S Films

Sophie is the content producer for 2S Films, the video experts for the nonprofit sector, dedicated to helping charities create impactful films and multi-media campaigns in the digital age.