3 inspiring campaigns from small charities

  • Many small charities run effective awareness-raising or fundraising campaigns
  • A simple call to action and clear storytelling are important elements of a successful campaign
  • We share some top tips to help you learn from what others are doing, and inspire your own campaigns

As a small charity, it is easy to feel intimidated by the campaign successes of large charities, with their big budgets, big influence, celebrity supporters and social media power.

However, even the smallest charities can run effective campaigns. We look at three inspiring campaigns run by small charities, and share some top tips based on their successes.


Campaigning organisation Generation Rent launched a social media campaign in April 2016 as part of its work around the London mayoral vote.

It invited people to share their stories of renting, resulting in an outpouring of bad housing stories, which made compelling reading.

The campaign was widely covered in the press – everywhere from the Metro to the BBC – and mayoral candidates used the hashtag to share their policies on housing.

Why it works:

  • Simple campaign with a clear call to action – people wanted to share their horror stories via social media
  • Timely, appealing to the press as part of the wider election coverage

The Archers

Few will have missed BBC Radio 4’s recent domestic violence storyline in The Archers.

In February, one listener created a JustGiving page to raise money for Refuge ‘for all the real-life Helens’, and set a fundraising target of £1,000.

To date, he has raised more than £130,800 plus gift aid.

Many of the donors also shared heartbreaking stories about their own experiences of domestic violence. People have been very affected by the storyline, and the fundraising has enabled them to react in a positive way.

Refuge and other domestic violence organisations helped the show’s writers ensure an accurate portrayal. They have also been very active on social media, promoting their services and responding to questions.

In February, as the storyline intensified, there was a 17% increase in calls to the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Refuge and Women’s Aid.

Why it works:

  • The storyline received huge media coverage and the active Archers online community helped to spread the word about the fundraising campaign
  • The storytelling struck a chord with people in a very powerful and tangible way. Domestic violence is rarely talked about
  • Fundraising was led by a supporter rather than the charity (read Archer fan Paul Truman’s thoughts on why it succeeded).

We can’t all have such a prominent and long-running storyline to hang our campaigns on, but topical issues can give small charities an opportunity to share an opinion about a big story, if they join in with a hashtag. (See more on this in our previous post.)


Maternity Worldwide invites supporters to host a cake sale or tea party as part of International Day of the Midwife in May, raising money to help sponsor midwife training in Africa. Since it launched in 2013, it has raised over £17,000, and the first midwife trained thanks to the fund is about to qualify.

Its social media channels show images of midwives with cakes in units across the UK, and its website has a fundraising pack along with donation details for a JustGiving page and TextGiving for those who just want to donate.

Why it works:

  • Catchy campaign name and connected with an International Day that will invite media coverage across the world
  • Connects with an existing community of supporters
  • Everyone likes cake!