Top charity use of trending news stories

Now, newsjacking has been around for ages and charities have been taking advantage of trending hashtags, or news, in both good and bad ways – mostly good.

Recently, I’ve noticed one charity that seems to have nailed it.

They have clearly thought their key messages through and they are reaping the benefits – their latest one, which focussed on the news story that skinny jeans could be bad for your health (oh dear, Hipsters) had 74 Retweets.

So who is it?

Here’s one for National Kissing Day.

But best of all? These ones for Game of Thrones.

I think these are wonderful examples of how to take advantage of trending hashtags, in a meaningful way. Have you spotted any others?

Charities get in on the April Fools’ spirit

Here are some really impressive April Fools’ day jokes from charities that I Storified for JustGiving. If you’ve spotted any others, please let me know. Enjoy!

This is how to thank your supporters

I’ve been a supporter of Child’s i Foundation for years now (I’ve written about them loads of times on this blog). Today I received the loveliest ‘thank you’ video from them, which they have kindly allowed me to share. You see, the video is a private link on YouTube so only those with the link can see it, which means it’s just for me but because it is such a wonderful piece of charity content, I just had to share it with you.

Child’s i is a small charity making a big impact.

I hope this video inspires you when you next thank a supporter. Think about how you can make them feel special, like this video makes me feel.

The best and worst letter I’ve ever received

My husband and I share a love of dogs. As we rent our flat, we’re unable to have a dog of our own. Although, even if we did own a property, I’m not sure we could have a dog just yet as we both leave home early in the morning and are not home until around 7pm.

One of the first birthday presents I gave my husband was sponsoring a Dogs Trust dog in his name. Every year my husband receives birthday, Christmas and even Valentine’s cards from his sponsor dog, Shane.

Then he received this letter.

Letter from Dogs Trust

Shane had passed away.

I’m not ashamed to say I cried my eyes out. I’m even tearing up just writing this. Yes we never got to meet Shane but he had been our sponsor dog for years. Pictures of him are on our fridge. He’s the dog we never had.

But this post is not about losing Shane, it’s about how Dog’s Trust handled that communication to us. It’s a sad letter but a lovely one too as it talks all about Shane – what kind of dog he was, how he was loved and cared for by the Dogs Trust staff (sadly Shane never found a forever home) and how he would genuinely be missed. And I completely believe every word.

Now of course Dogs Trust doesn’t want to lose our monthly donation so they’ve chosen another dog for us to sponsor. They’ve given us the option to choose another dog or amend our sponsorship and have given us a telephone number should we wish to call them.

So meet Lollipop.


Lollipop will now be our new sponsor dog and we’re looking forward to receiving our first Christmas card from her and supporting her (and other dogs like her) through our continued sponsorship.

I believe that charities can, with well written and sensitive communication, turn a sad (or bad) situation in to a positive. This letter is a great example of that.

What do charities and a Tube Strike have in common?

Tube staff are striking over plans to close down a number of ticket offices, leading to job losses of almost 1,000. So what does this have to do with charities?

Technically, nothing. Tube line info maps on the other hand…

A very clever and serious tweet from Save the Children, highlighting the crisis in Syria:

Save the children

And this one from Macmillan to highlight that their helpline is open, even if tube lines are closed:


Leonard Cheshire Disability highlights the inaccessability of tube stations for wheelchair users and brings home the message that for them, it’s like everyday is a tube strike day:

Leonard Cheshire

Have you spotted any others?


Vine – You’ve only got six seconds so make it count

No doubt by now you will be familiar with the latest social media platform on the block, Vine.

Vine is an App that lets you film a six second video from your phone or tablet that then plays on a continuous loop. No video editing skills are required, which makes it an attractive option particularly for small charities that may not have a budget for videos. The App is also free so all that’s required is a bit of time, imagination and creativity.

As Vine is owned by Twitter, expect some investment in the near future. Currently it is not available yet on Android but that should change fairly quickly. At the moment it is still quite a basic App in terms of its capabilities but some charities have been using it in really powerful and clever ways.

You can see lots of examples of charities using Vine in my Storify, I heard it through the (grape) vine. 


So what makes a good Vine?

From the many examples I have seen so far, a good vine is one that:

Has a beginning, middle and end

A video should tell a story and stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Think about the case studies you have on your website and see if you can turn any of those into a Vine. Can you capture their journey in just six seconds?

Has a clear message

It’s the elevator pitch concept. Think first about what your message is then work out how you can convey that message in just six seconds. Keep it simple with one message at a time.

Has a call to action

After watching your Vine, what do you want people to do? Perhaps it’s making a text donation, signing up for a fundraising challenge or just visiting your website. Whatever it is be sure it is clearly shown at the end of the Vine. Although the video plays on a continuous loop, viewers shouldn’t have to watch it three times just to read the call to action.

Is visually appealing

Vine has the ability to record sound but most charity Vines I’ve seen so far are soundless. Often a song or a voiceover will pull on our emotions but images can, of course, do this too. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and when you only have six seconds, a powerful image needs to work as hard as it can. If you are using images as stills, ensure they are high-resolution and in focus.

Offers personalisation

Some charities are already using Vine to thank their donors, campaigners and fundraisers by using their names or Twitter handles with a thank you message. It is a wonderful, inexpensive way of making supporters feel special and appreciated.

Lets  your personality shine

Social media has already enabled us to give a personality to our charities by letting us engage directly with the people we support and the people and organisations that support us. So why not let Vine do the same? Show your supporters the people behind the charity with ‘Meet the Team’, ‘A day in the life of…’  or ‘Funny things that happen in the office’ Vines. After all, people invest in people so let your staff shine!