With a second devastating earthquake hitting Nepal, adding to the death and destruction that came in wake of the first one on April 25th, 2015, many non-profit organizations and charities have issued emergency appeals. Scenes of the catastrophic, 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which killed over 9,000 people, severely injured tens of thousands, and displaced or caused untold chaos to a further estimated 2.8 million, have played out across screens around the world. But, a search of YouTube or Google using the keywords 'Nepal Earthquake' returns mainly news stories or user-generated footage of the natural disaster. Charity appeals have little visibility as they fight for internet real estate against CNN, the BBC or even CCTV footage from the areas affected by the disaster.
In 2014, video marketing campaigns for non-profit organisations generated 670M views, an increase of 857% in 6 years, so we know that viewers respond well to online video campaigns. But how are some charities using video to reach out to donors and supporters in the aftermath of one of the worst earthquakes Nepal has seen for 80 years?
Charity Appeals: How to Capture Hearts & Minds
The primary challenge for charities responding to natural disasters is gaining attention with limited time and resources. With the proliferation of smartphones, the barriers to entry in terms of capturing and uploading footage has never been easier. With the right equipment, everyone can be a journalist and after a major international event like the earthquake, the internet quickly gets flooded with clips of total devastation.
This presents two problems; how do charities make their voices heard above the noise of user-generated content, and professional news footage; and how do they combat indifference and fatigue bought on by so much instant coverage?
In the last 30 days, according to data from Tubular Labs, video content about the earthquakes in Nepal have generated 110.2M views across the main video platforms. The most watched video content on YouTube and Facebook being uploaded by news organisations like CNN or the BBC, or from CCTV, or from bystanders on the ground:
Data from Google Trends, including Web, Google News, and YouTube, confirms that user searches about the earthquakes hit a peak between the 25th and 27th April 2015. That's a relatively short-time frame to grab people's attention.
At time of writing, the most popular upload to YouTube is this CCTV clip of the earthquake, which has generated 4.2 million views. On Facebook, this drone footage of the aftermath of the quake has generated just over 2 million views, and nearly 40,000 shares.
Let's take a look at 3 charities that are using video as part of their emergency campaigns to bring much-needed support, food, and supplies to the people of Nepal.
Oxfam: Reaching out to Donors via Video
UK-based charity Oxfam is at the forefront of support in many of the desperate situations people around the world find themselves caught up in. It's no surprise that the organisation launched an appeal within hours of the earthquake, and have used all resources at their disposal to draw attention to the disaster. Oxfam are incredibly active on YouTube, Facebook, and social media, and are using video not only as a vehicle for direct appeals, but to confirm why financial support is so desperately needed, how the funds are spent, and how shattered communities are being rebuilt with thanks to Oxfam supporters.
The charity's main appeal video was uploaded to YouTube on April 28th, and guides the viewer to its site to donate via a both a link in the description, and a link in the video itself:
It didn't upload that video to Facebook, but is natively uploading others to the platform and organizing them into Playlists to make it easier for followers and supporters to keep up to date with announcements and developments:
Unicef & DEC: Enlisting Celebrity Help
Both the Disasters Emergency Committee (an alliance of 13 charities including Action Aid, British Red Cross, Islamic Relief, and Save the Children), and UNICEF have both enlisted celebrities to help garner support for their Nepalese campaigns.
The DEC has used well-known faces in the past to raise visibility for the crisis in Gaza (Martin Freeman) and to draw attention to the genocide in Rwanda (Helen Mirren), and for its earthquake appeal, internationally famous actor Daniel Craig lends his voice to the campaign. The video, uploaded to Facebook on the 29th of April, and to YouTube on the 30th April, is also playing on UK TV. The native Facebook upload far exceeds views and engagement compared to the YouTube post, with almost (at time of writing) 200,000 more views on the social network compared to YouTube, and many thousands more engagements.
UNICEF, who support the lives of children around the world, have seen the likes of David Beckham, Micheal Sheen, Tom Hiddleston, and Orlando Bloom step up and give their time to help. For its earthquake appeal, actor Ewan McGregor is fronting both a video and a TV campaign that asks for text donations to raise much-needed funds for the region.
Interestingly, the video appears as unlisted on YouTube (so doesn't show up in the search results) which may account for its relatively low view count (25K at time of writing). Also at time of writing, the video has around the same views on Facebook for its native upload. The charity also posted an edited-down version of this video to Instagram.
Emergency Appeals: Key Takeaways for Charities
Critiquing a charity's video marketing campaign in the middle of an international crisis would be churlish, and we're not about to do that. However, there are definitely a few ways that charities and non-profits can organize their strategy to benefit from increased visibility, especially in the few hours and days after an emergency:
- Google Grants and YouTube Perks: Take advantage of the grants and other benefits that Google, and YouTube offer to non-profit organizations. Applying for these now will help in the future, and may mean you can reach more people that much quicker.
- Create a Viewer Resource: Use YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other video platforms to create a hub for your resources. Break videos down into playlists that guide the viewer as to your organization, intentions, and success stories. Create sections for different campaigns and give the viewer as much transparency as you can so they feel confident in supporting your efforts - now and in the future.
- Use the Given Hashtag: It's incredibly rare these days that an event happens without an official hashtag being created for it. In most cases, that hashtag will be consistent across all social media platforms, and if you want donors to find you, use a tag that you will show up on.
- Use Video to Tell Stories: There is an enormous amount of content that charities can draw from to get their message across, from success stories to new initiatives in the field. Use video to update the viewer, and show them the real difference they can make by donating and supporting.