On the evening of April 21st the Charity Film Awards gave a great example of how to rapidly pivot from a large scale in person event to a highly successful virtual event.
The Charity Film Awards are designed to celebrate the success of film in fundraising; to increase exposure of charity films and to encourage donations for good causes. The programme runs from mid- September when charities enter their films, through public voting and judging to culminate in a gala awards ceremony.
This year over 400 films were entered, generating millions of views, as around 100,000 members of the public voted on their favourite films. All this set the stage for a brilliant climax to a wonderful campaign – until COVID-19 came along and made the gala impossible to host.
Simon Burton, CEO of Charity Film Awards explains what happened next: “We knew that we wanted to continue to celebrate the amazing films and work of the charities involved in Charity Film Awards. So we embraced our challenges of a tiny team and limited resources – we would be authentic and honest and place these amazing films front and centre. Our philosophy is that digital is essential for effective communications for charities, it’s hard-wired into Charity Film Awards campaign structure. Pivoting to digital didn’t need new content - it needed us to help the audience see that content in a new light.”
With over 10,000 viewers, trending on twitter and thousands of Facebook and Instagram posts, the pivot was a triumph and an example of what can be achieved in a short time. Using a live streaming platform based on YouTube, the virtual awards ceremony lasted just over an hour and comprised many creative and engaging approaches.
These included “singing the nominees” and a magician who made the winners names appear with a variety of different tricks – from a deck of cards, to a lit candle or even out of thin air. All of this provided a fitting backdrop against which the truly inspiring content honouring charities of many different shapes and sizes shone through. You can watch the Awards ceremony in full on demand:
There are too many worthy winners to comment on all of them, but from the very outset with the under £10k income category a high bar was set. This was won by Sunshine People with a simple but compelling message encouraging us all to perform acts of kindness and so make the world a better place.
There was virtual reality in the £10k-£100k income category with a film from Male Cancer Awareness:
Beautiful panoramic landscapes and wildlife scenes from Scottish Wildlife LINK winners in the £100k-£500k category:
And some wonderful animation from the Born Free Foundation with their film Born Free - The Bitter Bond:
I personally judged the £50m - £100m category, which was intensely competitive and saw St. Mungo’s "See the Potential" come out ahead of Anthony Nolan’s "Without You". Both were amazingly engaging, combining elements of education, creativity and deep emotional engagement to achieve their aims.
The big winners of the night were Carers UK with Two Sides of the Story. An informative and deeply moving film highlighting the experience of unpaid carers:
Particular mention should also go to Iceland UK in the Corporate Cause: Planet category for Rang-tan - their animation campaigning against the loss of forest homes due to “dirty” palm oil.
The full list of winners is:
Charity Film of The Year: Carers UK + British Gas
People’s Choice Film of the Year:Compassion in World Farming
£0K - £10K Turnover Category: Sunshine People
£10K - 100K Turnover Category:Male Cancer Awareness Campaign
£100K - £500K Turnover Category: Scottish Environment LINK
£500K - £5 Million Turnover Category:Surfers Against Sewage
£5 Million - £20 Million Turnover Category:The Born Free Foundation
£20 Million - £50 Million Turnover Category:Blind Veterans UK
£50 Million - £100 Million Turnover Category:St Mungo’s
£100 Million Plus Turnover Category:British Heart Foundation
Longform Under £5 Million:CHIVA
Long Form Over £5 Million:ShelterBox
Corporate Cause – People:Valuable 500 PEOPLE
Corporate Cause – Planet:Iceland
Details of all of these and the runners up can be found on the Charity Film Awards site.
In summary, the evening was a very engaging, stimulating and moving experience and showed what can be achieved by a small team in a short space of time and should serve as inspiration to other organisations considering how to virtualise their events. Well done Charity Film Awards. I look forward to seeing what more can be achieved for the 2021 Awards.