There’s no getting around it — creating a marketing campaign that’s equal parts clever, entertaining, and memorable can be challenging. If you’re looking for a dose of inspiration for your nonprofit’s next marketing campaign, take a look at the following social media campaigns that showed just how powerful the use of a single hashtag can be to rally new supporters, bring in donations, and raise awareness for your cause.
1. ALS Association: #IceBucketChallenge
The infamous Ice Bucket Challenge during the summer of 2014 is by far one of the most successful social media campaigns of all time. Participants would post hilarious videos of themselves dumping freezing water on themselves, then challenge their friends to donate and do the same.
This word-of-mouth strategy is as old as time, and for good reason: the #IceBucketChallenge generated $115 million for ALS research, a seriously debilitating motor neuron disease affecting the nerve cells and spinal cord.
Beyond the funds raised, this social campaign is reported to have garnered almost 1 billion impressions and nearly 700 media features!
2. Keep A Breast Foundation: #CheckYourSelfie
This nonprofit’s mission is to empower young people around the world with breast health education and support. Where better to reach young people than the platforms they’re on? The Keep A Breast Foundation encouraged their followers to pose for their selfies with their hand in the simple, easily recognizable form of a self-breast examination.
The clever #CheckYourSelfie movement has seen 6000+ Instagrammers participate and spread the word about importance of breast health education so far.
3. Make-A-Wish Foundation: #SFBatKid
Make-A-Wish is well-known for making the wildest fantasies of seriously ill patients come true, but they took their campaign to new heights with #SFBatkid, a 5-year-old cancer patient whose wish was to become a superhero. Orchestrated with the city of San Francisco, "Bat Kid” was given the opportunity to stop a (staged) robbery, save a damsel in distress, and was presented with the key to the city.
A heartwarming tearjerker of a campaign, #SFBatKid generated over half a million social media mentions, 1.7 billion in overall impressions, and even spawned a documentary film chronicling the entire event — no doubt inspiring Make-A-Wish supporters for years to come.
4. To Write Love On Her Arms: #TWLOHA
This nonprofit is a beacon of hope for anyone struggling with mental health issues, including addiction, depression, self-injury and thoughts of suicide; through a variety of national events, rallies, and merchandise sales, they also invest directly into treatment for those going through recovery.
Abbreviating their organization’s name to #TWLOHA for social media has taken off in terms of brand awareness. Nearly 200,000 mentions on Instagram and countless more every day on Twitter and Facebook help the nonprofit get the message out about their current funding initiatives, including their most recent "Donate Your Birthday” campaign asking supporters to request that their friends consider donating on the supporter’s birthday in lieu of a personal gift.
5. WaterAid: #GiveAShit
One in 10 people globally today does not have access to a sanitary toilet, causing 300,000 deaths each year through the spread of serious disease. This is a major health and sanitation crisis that WaterAid strove to raise awareness for through their aptly named #GiveAShit campaign (and tongue-in-cheek use of the ???? emoji).
The #GiveAShit campaign is clever because it introduces itself on people’s social media feeds in a somewhat silly, lighthearted way to capture their attention, before redirecting that attention to the more serious issue at hand — and more importantly, how social media users can help! The campaign proved successful across 53 countries, generating 230 million media impressions and welcoming 11,000 new supporters to their cause.
6. Michelle Obama (for Let Girls Learn): #62MillionGirls
A vast number of girls across the world are still being denied an education — in fact, the number comes in at around 62 million. To raise awareness toward this crisis, then-First Lady Michelle Obama asked the public to share a yearbook-style photo of themselves to social media answering the question, "In school I learned _____. #62MillionGirls never have that chance.”
Upon announcing the campaign, the hashtag #62MillionGirls went viral, producing over 220,000 mentions online, 1.8 billion impressions, and trended at #3 globally on Twitter. Now, the hashtag has carried on a life of its own beyond the initial campaign, becoming synonymous with the topics of girls’ education and gender inequality.