Five inventive charity campaigns from 2016

  • The events of 2016 show that charities have lots to do to change attitudes and help those who need them most
  • As budgets are stretched, it can be hard to justify expensive fundraising or awareness campaigns
  • We look at five campaigns that show you don’t need to use expensive technology or advertising to be successful

Some of the best and most inventive charity campaigns in 2016 have been driven by a simple action or clear message.

We take a look at five of these campaigns that have been particularly easy to join in with or which responded to something topical, encouraging engagement and giving people a chance to do something positive.


In August See Me Scotland ran a campaign about the mental health of young people.

#MyUnfilteredLife sought to bring a bit of reality to social media, to show that life isn’t all holidays, good hair days and sunshine. It aimed to show young people that the images people share on social media are not representative.

See Me Scotland said: “Speaking about the things in life that make us feel down is just as important as sharing what makes us happy.”

People connected with the campaign by sharing their own images and personal stories on Instagram and other channels using the hashtag.


The #firstfiver campaign was started by fundraiser John Thompson in September. He tweeted to say that he would be donating his first polymer £5 note to charity and asked if anyone else was doing the same.

Influential organisations including NCVO, UK Fundraising and the Institute of Fundraising shared the idea using the hashtag #firstfiver.

Large and small charities quickly joined in by asking their supporters to donate their first notes to them (either physically, electronically online or via text message). Many used images of the eye-catching new notes to attract attention, and others made short videos.

In November, CAF estimated that up to £12.5m was raised through #firstfiver.

Small charity School in a Bag who we featured in our blog post about #firstfiver say that have received 106 donations, with more still promised. They say that they are ‘absolutely blown away’ to have raised £530 through the campaign, enough to fund 26.5 bags.

Watch out for similar campaigns next summer when the polymer £10 note is released.

Flats Friday

In May, the Fawcett Society responded to a story about a receptionist who was sent home for not wearing high heels. An online petition received over 130,000 signatures. The issue of dress codes was debated in parliament and some companies changed their policies.

Their #FawcettFlatsFriday campaign invited women to share images of their flat shoes on social media. This campaign united people, and on the day it became the top trending topic on Twitter, it received more than four million impressions, gaining further media coverage.

Hospice Care Week

October’s Hospice Care Week was a chance for hospices across the country to dispel some of the myths around what they do and who they care for. Using social media and press stories, hospices joined in with ‘hospice care is…..’

During the week personal stories, behind-the-scenes videos, team profiles and ‘thank you’s’ were shared. It was a celebration of the great work that hospices do. See a selection in our Hospice Care Week Twitter Moment.

The Archers’ domestic violence storyline

In April, BBC Radio 4’s long-running soap The Archers hit the headlines with their domestic violence storyline involving Rob and Helen Titchener. After the climatic programme, the story was trending on Twitter for four hours with 20,000 tweets.

The JustGiving page set up by listener Paul Trueman to raise money for ‘real-life Helens’, directing money to Refuge, hit its £100k target a few days later.

Paul Trueman initially only hoped to raise £1000. His fundraising tapped in to the active Archers community who got behind the fund. As the story developed and listeners were drawn in to the situation, people wanted to do something to help. The fund recently exceeded £200k with Gift Aid.