Here’s how charity advertising can engage a new generation of donors

Having recently created a acclaimed campaign for the CRIS Cancer Foundation that asked people to fight leukemia in a modified version of the Doom Eternal video game, Cheil’s Malcolm Poynton asks what charities need to do to find the support of a new generation.

With fundraising hit during the pandemic and the looming cost of living crisis, charities face an existential threat. The UK Giving report shows the number of people donating to charity fell in 2020 for the fifth year in a row. In recent years, charities have become increasingly dependent on older donors and now need to rethink how they engage a new generation.

The cost of living crisis is likely to have an additional impact on donations. Research shows a link between consumption levels and charitable revenues, with research body Pro Bono Economics predicting that charities are likely to see a drop in revenues as consumption falls due to growing uncertainty and high inflation.

At the same time, charities supporting people experiencing poverty will see their demand surge as the budgets of the hardest hit households continue to be stretched and food prices are set to rise by up to 15% this year. because of the war in Ukraine. .

To survive, charities must urgently recruit new donors. Encouragingly, the younger generations are more values-driven. They are passionate about social and political causes and want companies to have a purpose beyond profit, with recent research from Deloitte showing that young people seek to hold themselves and others accountable for the most pressing issues in the world. the society.

Yet many charities fail to harness this dedication to tackle issues like racial injustice and the climate crisis. They don’t translate Millennials and Gen Z’s passion for good causes into brand loyalty for their organizations. Getting people to signal their support for a cause via a hashtag or social media flag is one thing, creating a steady stream of donations to keep your charity afloat is another.

Use popular Gen Z formats and platforms

To increase engagement, charity brands need to take a more relevant and targeted approach. A campaign through traditional channels will not be enough to enlist a legion of young supporters. We centered our recent campaign for the CRIS Cancer Foundation in the world of video games. Gaming is the number one entertainment activity for Gen Z and we’re starting to see charities connecting with young supporters through gaming – including End Youth Homelessness, which hosts an annual fundraising event Gaming for Good.

TikTok is also becoming a key platform where charities and NGOs can engage young people in a serious cause in a fun and engaging way, as seen in the hugely popular British Red Cross handwashing dance routines on TikTok. after the outbreak of the pandemic.

For CRIS, we launched a video game, a modified version of Doom Eternal, the iconic first-person shooter, where players were challenged to “fight cancer to beat cancer”. The game, The Battle Inside, takes place in the body where players battle against rapidly replicating cells, blastocysts, carcinomas, and leukemia viruses. Our goal was to engage a new generation of supporters by making them understand the battle that leukemia represents for patients.

Make your communications interactive and immersive

Gen Z doesn’t want to passively watch your content, they want to be inspired, learn something new, and most importantly, interact. We knew that many young people had little knowledge about leukemia, so we created an immersive and interactive experience designed to bring the behavior of the disease to life. This way, we could give players a deeper insight into what the body goes through when battling leukemia and develop empathy that would lead to a new generation’s support for CRIS’ innovative research.

By incorporating a mobile payment system into the game, players could donate in a simple and familiar way while they played or, even while watching live streams from gaming influencers, resulting in support +800% for the CRIS foundation. Notably, while playing The Battle Inside on a livestream, Spanish gaming influencer @angelmartin_nc (923.6k followers) said, “I wish they had taught me everything about video games. “

Harness the power of influencers

To turn audiences into donors, it helps to connect with them on a deeper, more personal level. Gen Z continues to be heavily influenced by influencers, with 44% of Gen Zers making purchasing decisions based on an influencer recommendation, compared to 26% of the general population, according to research by Kantar.

Young audiences appreciate the authenticity and honest feedback provided by many influencers. So when working with influencers, we believe it’s best not to be too prescriptive and allow them to act as an objective mediator between your brand and their communities. To drive engagement for The Battle Inside, we enlisted top Spanish gaming influencers to play and share their experience with The Battle Inside mod.

With over 20 of the nation’s top gamers playing the game live on Twitch, we had players engaged for over 30 hours. This translated to over 2.5 million views and over 18 million impressions, driving levels of awareness far beyond traditional media campaigns.

What future for charities?

As the metaverse expands, charities will have exciting new opportunities to reach new generations in new ways. The power of VR, AR, mobile, gaming and multiverse experiences will enable new ways to develop empathy rather than pure awareness. It’s an exciting era for charities if they can get their stakeholders to take the leap into the new space. And for those who do, the ability to develop greater empathy will unlock greater support. After all, as Confucius said, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.

Malcolm Poynton is Global Creative Director at Cheil.

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