We celebrate the most innovative and engaging use of social media by charities during a difficult year for the sector
COVID-19 has transformed all of our lives. With in-person fundraising and events curtailed, the voluntary sector has pivoted its marketing, communications, fundraising, and service delivery online. The digital transformation has been accelerated, as charities get to grips with the ‘new normal’.
This development has led to a considerable ramping up of charities’ use of social media, with some eye-catching and engaging examples on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and other channels to convey vital messaging and raise much-needed funds amid the pandemic.
Here we look at some of the most impressive uses of social media by charities in 2020.
The charity sector swiftly deployed some innovative uses of social media to raise funds at the start of the pandemic, during the first lockdown.
This campaign tapped into the increasing trend of people cutting their hair at home while in isolation. The campaign encouraged people to post before and after photos and videos across social media and donate the usual cost of their haircut to charity. This form of before and after content is ideally suited for social media channels.
Here's a selection of more #TrimTransformations - this time from @davidmannion , @MattP_mhance and @scottyjenkins21. Great cuts all round we think - with donations to our fantastic charity partners!#haircutforcharity #donate #homehaircut #supportingcharities #chopthemop pic.twitter.com/eSMdFe2YXC— Haircutforcharity (@CutForCharity) June 16, 2020
Money donated has been handed to charities that registered for the campaign, including Age Action, RSPCA, Make-a-Wish, and Anthony Nolan.
The charity sector has had to take difficult steps in recent years to address a lack of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).
The #CharitySoWhite social media campaign launched in 2019 and continues to be at the forefront of campaigning and in 2020 we saw the launch of the #ShowtheSalary campaign, which sought to target charity recruitment specifically.
The campaign launched to address the charity sector’s failure to detail salaries on offer and only advertising roles as coming with a “competitive salary”. The campaign claims that it was a “discriminatory practice that perpetuates wage gaps”.
Social media has been integral to this messaging with the campaign actively challenging charities and recruiters that do not #ShowtheSalary.
This included high profile conversations across social media, with many charities publicly backing the campaign and pledging to address EDI in their recruitment.
And THIS is how you do it.— Show The Salary (@ShowTheSalary) September 3, 2020
HUGE kudos to @BritishRedCross: action taken within a matter of hours, an honest and open response. And problem solved.
This is how quick it can be.
We'll be expecting others to follow suit and, obviously, to always #ShowTheSalary in future. https://t.co/xjdg3DmDvp
The Woodland Trust and the British Red Cross are among charities to be challenged and commit to change.
The charity sector’s drive to improve its commitment to EDI continued in 2020 through the Share the Mic campaign, which sees black women take over the running of high-profile social media accounts of white female business leaders and influencers.
Among charity sector leaders to take part was Shelter Chief Executive Polly Neate who handed her Twitter feed for a day to Roli Barker, a project manager at the charity.
Hi! My name is Roli. I am a Project Manager @Shelter and I will be taking over Polly’s twitter account for the day. A little about me...I'm half Bajan and half Trini, an arts & culture enthusiast and Chair of the Housing North Board @JigsawHG #ShareTheMic pic.twitter.com/MvSm8k3pQA— Polly Neate (@pollyn1) October 20, 2020
Another to take part was cancer charity CLIC Sargent Chief Executive Rachel Kirby Rider, whose Twitter account was taken over by cancer patient Shellbie.
The handing over of high-profile social media accounts to charity workers and service users in this way added considerable authenticity to charities’ ethical messaging and commitment to equality.
This has been particularly the case amid pandemic-hit 2020, when the real lives of people being supported by charities take on extra resonance.
Among charities to use UGC successfully in 2020 was Marie Curie. It used UGC to give social media users a greater insight into its work around cancer. Its campaigning involved enlisting 63-year-old terminal cancer patient Lin Dalton to produce here own video diary of her day-to-day life, which was released in Instagram. This was released regularly by the charity until her death in June 2020.
Social media is always a key part to promotion and fundraising around the London Marathon. But posting on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels in 2020 was especially vital as the fundraising side of the event was pivoted online.
In April, when the event was postponed, the #twopointsixchallenge was launched urging people to support good causes through sponsored activities based around the numbers 2.6 or 26. Within months this successfully raised more than £11.1 million with social media key to its success.
The event was rescheduled for later in the year, but for elite athletes only, and fundraisers were once again asked to take to social media to complete their own race in their own neighbourhood.
"My family was affected by cancer, with both my parents previously being diagnosed with the disease. I took part in the Virtual #LondonMarathon in October to fundraise for @CR_UK, as it’s a cause that's close to my heart." Thanks for sharing your support, Glen! \uD83D\uDE4C pic.twitter.com/YeXZOZF5Jc— CRUK Challengers (@CRUKChallengers) December 9, 2020