The cost-of-living-crisis is impacting on people’s daily lives in so many different ways that it can be hard for charities to gain cut-through. So how do we as charity communicators ensure the impact the crisis is having on top of the issues we’re already tackling doesn’t get left out of the conversation?
At Shelter we did this by getting creative…
Back in July, the Shelter team were scrolling through news feeds of content about the cost-of-living crisis which was missing a key factor: the link to unaffordable housing. We knew this cost was leading to increasing numbers of people being at risk of homelessness. Yet when the public were asked to name the most important issues, housing trailed behind the economy, health, the environment and immigration (YouGov Weekly Issues Tracker July 2022). As housing is linked to all of these, we wanted it to be a part of the conversation rather than be absorbed by it.
A campaign to capture attention and inform
Our internal creative team started designing ads to grab people’s attention at a time when their minds were overwhelmed by only one topic. We had to be bold to get people to care and we also focused on a solution which didn’t blame people for something that they hadn’t caused. This was an important thread from early feedback we received from people who had struggled to pay their rents who we recruited via the platform Imagen Insights.
Using this insight we came up with an idea of a ‘cost-of-living hacks’ campaign. We contrasted tongue-in-cheek ‘hacks’ based on headlines coming out of the media and quotes from politicians like ‘Just work more hours!’ or ‘Cancel your Netflix account’ with an alternative solution: that the government could act and make housing more affordable. We put our message out in ways to make people talk, like a mural in a pedestrianised part of Shoreditch and on beer mats in pubs in urban areas across the country where our politically engaged young audience were. We tested new platforms like Reddit and our strong message generated huge organic reach across channels like TikTok and LinkedIn. Influencers ranging from pop singers Paloma Faith and Mel C to political activist Gina Martin shared it further with their followers.
Gaining cut-through and support
The primary metrics for us when it came to this campaign, were about driving engagement and conversation and shifting the amount of people who believed in our cause. We faced apathy, so this was about smashing through that to getting people engaging with the topic and priming them for future communications with us and long-term support. What happened was we had over 100,000 likes and shares, over 7 million views and over 23 million impressions. On top of this, we saw a halo effect on our comms including both an uplift in donations during the campaign period of the month of October and thousands of people emailing their MPs asking for affordable housing.
Our campaign established new supporters who we plan to work with over many years across a spectrum of fundraising to campaigning. It also got housing back into the news agenda as an integral part of the cost-of-living crisis, enabling our message to live on long after the campaign is complete.
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Banner Image: Brady Bellini on Unsplash