Awareness days are a moment to start conversations around causes that matter. And while Valentine’s Day might not seem like an obvious choice for charities, it actually presents a wonderful opportunity to reach people. Here, in honour of a day of giving and receiving with those we love, we share a few creative ways that charities have used Valentine’s Day to spread their message and raise awareness. You’ll see that it’s easy – and fun – for your charity to plan a successful campaign around this special day. As a result, your answer to, “How do I love thee?” might be “Let me count the donations!”
1. British Heart Foundation’s Love Notes
Feeling the love, and perhaps some ambition? Take a note from the British Heart Foundation’s 2018 Love Notes campaign. Local BHF shops filled their windows with “love notes” in an attempt to break a world record for the longest chain of paper hearts! Supporters could visit their local shop and purchase a £2 note to be part of the record attempt. The campaign was a creative way to raise funds and awareness, while giving supporters a chance to be involved in something a bit different. (The current record stands at 8,525 paper hearts.)
- Love it? Make it yours: If you decide to pursue your own record-breaking attempt, make sure that it’s something that everyone can get involved in. Promote your efforts widely – these types of campaigns can also be a great way to gain coverage in the press and on social media.
2. NHS Foundation’s #LoveMyNHS
NHS Foundation Trusts tapped into the theme of love with a 2019 campaign to recognise the efforts of its front-line workers, including ambulance staff and NHS colleagues. Using the hashtag #LoveMyNHS, NHS Foundations opened the campaign to the public and asked people to share why they love the NHS. Thousands of people joined in, and NHS charities shared their favourite Tweets of the day online, to magnify and thank those who participated.
- Love it? Make it yours: Do you have a small budget or limited time to put together a Valentine’s Day campaign? Social media is a great focus, as you can craft a powerful and engaging campaign with relatively minimal time and cost. Take a love note from NHS Trusts, and use your social media channels to ask direct questions of the people that matter to you, like your staff, your volunteers and your beneficiaries. Be sure to engage people who participate by liking or sharing their posts.
3. Unicef’s “Storybook” Proposal
We suggest you pause here and just watch this 30-second video from Unicef.
Did you see this coming? We certainly did not. It’s a powerful and memorable video that calls attention to child marriage. Around Valentine’s Day, Unicef posted the video on Twitter along with the hashtag #EndChildMarriage to highlight how critical it is to tackle child marriage, and to do it now; 12 million girls a year get married as children. Not surprisingly, the video kicked off a longer and deeper conversation around the issue.
Unicef created other powerful #EndChildMarriage videos, and even partnered with groups on the campaign, including a wedding service (BellaNaija Weddings) and BNDoGood.
- Love it? Make it yours: Don’t be afraid to be provocative. The issues your charity cares about are big and complex. Explore opportunities to surprise, challenge or make people feel a bit uncomfortable. The result can often touch people in ways that other more traditional campaigns cannot, resulting in more attention to issues that matter, like ending child marriage. What are common misconceptions about your cause? What might make people think? Work closely with your board and leadership to craft a Valentine’s campaign that pushes boundaries; it could just be your most successful campaign yet.
4. Marie Curie’s Notes to a Loved One: What Happens When You Put Pen to Paper?
This example is from two years ago, but it remains a creative and powerful campaign, and one that could easily be customised for your own charity and cause. In 2018, the Marie Curie charity, which supports families living with a terminal illness, celebrated Valentine’s Day via video. Patients in Marie Curie’s Bradford Hospice were invited to write personal letters to a loved one, to let them know how much they cared for them and appreciated their support.
That alone would be a thoughtful campaign! But Marie Curie recorded the patients as they wrote their letters, and shared the resulting videos on social media, for the world to see. It was a rare and welcome glimpse into a beautiful and typically private moment. The campaign helped spread awareness and started a conversation around the issue.
- Love it? Make it yours: For your own campaign, consider the power of compelling video content. Stories and rare little moments like this have a tremendous value in terms of engaging your supporters. How can you make a video campaign unique to your charity? For example, animal charities could ask people to share videos of favourite moments with pets. Or charities that serve children could host a contest for kids and their families to submit short video stories, with a chance to win neat prizes, like novelty keyrings, backpacks or branded playground toys.
What other clever or memorable campaigns have you seen, for Valentine’s Day or any day? What do you have in the works for 2020? One way to enhance any campaign is with special branded merchandise that tells the same story in a different medium. Adding small tokens can help “spread the love” around your campaign, whether you give the items as gifts, raffle them off as part of a contest or sell them for donations. Please get in touch with us today – by phone, email or we’ll gladly take a Valentine’s card!