|Telling people to give up ‘their vices’ is fraught with risk. After all, there’s always a chance you could end up sounding a bit self-righteous or judgemental. But this doesn’t seem to be the case for charities today, as many have come up with interesting ways to get people to make lifestyle changes that come across as fun rather than preachy.
Alcohol Concern, for instance, has sought to get people to give up alcohol for a month in its Dry January campaign, while the British Heart Foundation wants us to abstain from chocolate in March for its Dechox initiative.
So why is it the public is so receptive to these campaigns and keen to show their support?
The goals are realistic
Whereas a sponsored walk up Kilimanjaro or running 27 marathons in 27 days might be beyond most, campaigns such as Dechox and Meat Free Monday work partly because they are based around things that everybody can do; and the organisations behind these campaigns are asking people to make relatively small changes to their lifestyle meaning participation doesn’t seem like an intimidating prospect.
Charities aren’t asking for permanent change
While this might be the ultimate objective, charities recognise that asking people to make wholesale change may not work. These campaigns are time-specific and ask people to dip their toe in the water for a limited period of time. People therefore see them as a bit of harmless fun, which could encourage them to independently decide to make more long-lasting lifestyle changes.
Campaigns help raise awareness
Abstinence campaigns aren’t necessarily designed to raise money, but instead get issues into the public consciousness. You don’t really need to do intensive research into campaigns like Meat Free Monday, Dry January and Veganuary to get an idea of what they are about. The names effectively sum up what people are meant to do and plant the idea among the wider public about the various lifestyle changes they could be making. The neat summation in the campaign name often also lends itself well to supporting marketing materials, such as branded T-shirts, badges and wristbands.
People enjoy boasting about lifestyle changes on social media
Many social media users routinely use Facebook and Instagram to update their followers about aspects of their life, especially how healthy and charitable they are. They’ll broadcast how they got up at 4am to run a few miles and post a photo of their healthy tea in the evening. Many charity-based campaigns have tapped into this by actively encouraging people post about their activities online. The Veganuary campaign, which encouraged people to go vegan for a month, was designed to raise awareness of animal rights. And it achieved this by embracing the trend of people posting pictures of vegan meals on Instagram. It’s equally trendy among some social media users to set themselves a personal challenge, such as training for a marathon or losing weight, and record every step along the way towards achieving it on social media. Charity campaigns can make use of this in a hugely effective way.
Hitting upon an original idea that catches fire amongst the public is never easy, but the above examples offers some pointers as to what charities need in a campaign, namely a title that sums up what’s to be achieved, a goal that isn’t too lofty and where possible it should tap into trends and attitudes that already exist.
Sources / Further Reading
Alcohol weary Brits admit they need a break Gov.uk
Dechox: Give up chocolate in March Dechox