March 29, 2022  |  Brendan Paige

Top 7 Nonprofit Campaigns of 2021

Research is foundational to everything we do here at Bloom. No matter the engagement, we always perform extensive market and competitor research, studying the marketing and communication strategies of other organizations to help inspire and inform our efforts with our own clients. 

Over the course of a year, we will review dozens if not hundreds of nonprofit and charitable organizations, looking at everything from their websites, social media, media coverage, advertising, branding, and more. 

As all of us in the world of communications continue to brainstorm and develop campaigns for the rest of 2022, we decided to take a look back at 2021 and share 7 of the most unique, effective, and inspirational marketing campaigns from nonprofits that stood out to our team at Bloom.

Charity: Water – Water Crisis Quiz

Millions of people around the world do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. Charity: Water is a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding water projects and solving the water crisis. While many individuals might be aware that there is an ongoing water crisis, the true breadth of the situation is sometimes overlooked or hard to comprehend. Charity: Water decided to help raise awareness by developing a simple quiz that asks users about facts pertaining to the crisis. As the user proceeds through the quiz, the severity of the situation becomes more and more apparent. 

child cupping hands water

Online quizzes and questionnaires are easier to craft and deliver to target audiences than ever before. Many online services are available, and the immersive experience can be much more impactful than, say, a blog or social media post. When fundraising for nonprofits, it can be tempting to jump right to the ask, but sometimes putting in the time and effort to take your audience on an experiential journey can be much more rewarding. 

To Write Love on Her Arms – Virtual 5K

A nonprofit dedicated to helping those struggling with depression and addiction, To Write Love on Her Arms hosts a local 5K each year in Satellite Beach, Florida. However, when COVID hit, they realized that they would need to pivot from their traditional annual fundraising run. Instead, they decided to host a virtual 5K allowing people from across the country to walk or run in their own communities, but together virtually. 

We’ve certainly all experienced Zoom Fatigue over the last couple of years, but this is a much-welcomed departure from the norm. Hosting virtual events is a great way to connect with donors and patrons across the country, but taking it one step further, inviting people to get outside and be active.

Good Work Austin – Meals During A Crisis

In February 2021, Austin, TX, was hit by an unexpected and severe snowstorm which left 70% of the state without power and 50% without water. While communities scrambled to stay warm, Good Work Austin and a number of local Austin influencers (including A Taste of Koko, @atasteofkoko) sprang into action. In one week, they raised over $150,000 and worked with local restaurants to deliver 40,000 meals to the city. They not only surpassed their campaign goals but their public relations efforts also raised a tremendous amount of awareness and earned media for the organizations and restaurants that participated. 

Never underestimate the power of social media and its ability to connect with people, even in times of crisis. Local influencers were able to quickly reach large audiences to raise awareness and connect with restaurants via DMs to coordinate a truly massive meal delivery operation. 

DoSomething.org – Would You Rather?

DoSomething.org is one of the largest youth-led nonprofit organizations that helps communities with everything from voter registration to clothing donation and environmental cleanup. Since most of their target audience is younger, they decided to launch an SMS campaign, sending text messages asking “Would you rather?” questions. For example, a recipient would be presented with two scenarios, one promoting money-making and the other money-saving. After they answered, they would be offered a link to more money-saving tips. There were also other incentives, for example, participants who shared the game with friends would be entered into a raffle. 

texting man bicycle

This is on one hand a great reminder that text message/SMS marketing can serve as a great compliment to other digital marketing efforts, but also a perfect example of an organization understanding the means by which their target audience prefers to communicate. When developing a communications strategy for a nonprofit, consider what publications or apps or devices your audience uses on a daily basis and how you can leverage those channels to connect with them. 

Multiple Organizations – Donate Your Miles

Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, St. Jude’s, and other nonprofit organizations all partnered with Delta airlines to offer Delta fliers the option to donate their miles. A Delta member can choose which organizations they would like to donate miles to, which can be used for everything from transporting patients seeking medical treatment (Luke’s Wings) to transporting service dogs across the country to children and adults with disabilities (Canine Assistants).

We love this clever example of non-monetary fundraising. These organizations identified what their needs were (transportation across the country) and formed partnerships with the organizations providing those services. And most of us have miles just sitting in our airline account, especially during a pandemic when we’re traveling much less. 

No More Secrets, MBS – Power a Period

 A survey conducted by No More Secrets, Mind Body Spirit Inc. found that one in five teenagers have struggled to afford period products. Their organization works to provide women who are experiencing period poverty with the products and resources they need. Last year, No More Secrets, MBS, rolled out their “Power a Period” campaign to raise awareness and drive fundraising for their cause. At the center of their campaign were the personal stories of five local women who had suffered from period poverty. They used these powerful stories to help audiences connect with the real people affected by poverty and who have benefited from the nonprofit’s services. 

interview testimonial

Testimonials are a great way to showcase the benefits of an organization’s services while adding credibility and trust. This organization noticed that similar causes were too ambiguous and didn’t highlight the real women who were affected, so they decided to amplify the voices of their community. Videos, quotes, reviews, and more can all go a long way in complimenting a successful nonprofit fundraising campaign. 

Meals on Wheels People: Cooper’s Coffee

Meals on Wheels People (MOWP) is a nonprofit organization providing older adults with meals while helping to alleviate hunger and social isolation. Cooper Hammond, a local 8-year-old, has an annual tradition with his family of creatively supporting a new charitable organization each holiday season. After learning about Meals on Wheels People last year, Cooper and the organization worked together to take their passion for serving others to the next level. Cooper and MOWP developed a special edition of PDXPOP! popcorn and hosted a number of pop-up events to raise funds for older adults facing food insecurity and social isolation. The campaign not only raised funds, but also a significant amount of awareness for the organization and cause. 

The term “influencer marketing” gets thrown around quite a bit, but this is such a great non-traditional example of tapping into your community and collaborating with individuals who share a common mission. Being one of our own clients, we were very proud to help Meals on Wheels People to develop and execute this campaign. 

Now It’s Your Turn

We hope that you get as much inspiration out of these ideas as we did. 

Which of these campaigns stood out to you? We’d love to hear about some of your favorite nonprofit marketing campaigns and why they inspired you.

Need help with your nonprofit’s communications strategy? We’re here to lend a hand.

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