Let me start with a few questions… Did you make poverty history? Did you buy the Haiti single? Have you enjoyed some comic relief?
What did you do for charity between those events? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that there’s something wrong in what you did. In fact it’s wholly admirable. But what’s the impact on smaller but equally worthwhile charities?
I’ve worked closely with a number of big and small charities over the years and they all tend to face the same problems… getting noticed, being understood and engaging with people. Try that when your competitors are signing up popstars and z-list celebs to high profile campaigns.
Giving is sexy and fashionable. And like any fashion, people want to be seen wearing the right label. AIDS is so last decade. It’s all about world debt and saving the earth now baby. So what about the charities working for less ‘fashionable’ causes?
Their lives have been made much more difficult. Yet their need for support hasn’t diminished. Is there a solution? Can we create a level playing field where all charities get a proportionate level of exposure?
Organisations like Virgin Unite and Just Giving who group together with smaller charities could be part of the answer. But should we do something more dramatic? How about freeing up ad time and space to feature smaller charities perhaps at a vastly reduced price?
Sounds great but how would you decide who gets that precious time? Charities would have to invest in marketing just for the opportunity to promote themselves. But you know it’s not all doom and gloom.
The rise of social networking sites is making it easier for charities of all sizes to increase their profile. You may have read recently how a child managed to raise over £100,000 by driving his sponsorship through Facebook.
And how about The Rage Against the Machine vs X-Factor campaign? With social media, thankfully, size isn’t everything. And there’s no doubt that these sites makes the world smaller. We enjoy the ‘intimacy’ of knowing what those close to us are all up to.
And we like to be part of groups and movements, especially ones we feel we can make a direct difference to. The little guy on his bike and the couple taking on X-Factor are proof that the little guy can have a voice. And as a culture, we do love the little guy.
So embrace your size, show people how much closer you are to the issues you deal with. After all, with charities empathy is still everything. But even though you’re using social media, never forget that it’s crucial you keep that proposition clear and the message simple.
As always, timing is key. You need to reach out to the right people at the right time and of course in the right way. So if you’re a smaller charity, don’t panic. Social media could be the ace up your sleeve. And who knows, maybe one day Peter Andre might front your next appeal. You decide if that’s good or bad…