What MND Awareness Month taught me about campaigning

As the new Communications, Engagement and Events Coordinator for the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research, I recently ran my first ever campaign for MND Awareness Month, #BeatMND. Read on to find out my key takeaways…

No. 1: You don’t need to spend a fortune to run a successful campaign.

After years of working with small charities, I’m well aware of the budgetary constraints that awareness and fundraising campaigns can present.

Here are my top tips on running a campaign on a shoestring:

Don’t pay for a graphic designer – they cost a fortune, and unless you’re looking for something really complex, you should be able to create the graphics that you need yourself. Canva is a free, web-based tool, which can help you to create solid graphics for your campaign without spending a penny. They also offer free subscriptions to their ‘Canva for Work’ programme for non profits.

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You know what else you don’t need? Fancy equipment to create decent quality video. I filmed a series of short ‘talking heads’ videos for this campaign, using my iPhone, for less than £20. How, you becry?

After some research on good old Google, I decided to invest in the FiLMiC Pro app, compatible for both iOS and Android; a smartphone tripod (purchased from trusty Poundland, thanks to a top tip from this lady); and a Lavalier Smartphone Mic. Using compositional technique the Rule of Thirds, I was able to capture decent, professional looking shots in HD, with good sound quality, without breaking the bank. As these were unedited pieces, I didn’t use any software, though I did trim the running time slightly, using YouTube’s Video Manager. Check out the first in the series below, and let me know what you think!

You don’t need to spend a fortune on an expensive camera to take some decent, professional looking shots. Even if you don’t use Instagram as a comms channel, it’s worth getting an account, so that you can benefit from the wide selection of filters and other free editing tools. Check out the photos in the Storify below, which were edited using Instagram, which I hope you’ll agree look pretty good!

No. 2: Have something interactive for your supporters to get involved with, both online and IRL.

Whilst digital is very important in today’s environment, it shouldn’t be the only element of your campaign. Remember, just because you spend every waking moment on Twitter, it doesn’t mean your current and potential supporters do! Try and have at least one activity offline to ensure accessibility and diversity of audience.

For our online supporters, I created campaign-specific banners for Facebook and Twitter, downloadable from our website, and a (free) Twibbon, allowing people to update their profile picture. This proved really popular, with over 350 people lending their support to our campaign.

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For the ‘real life’ element of the campaign, I designed campaign-specific stickers to give out on our awareness raising stalls, and kitted out our volunteers with matching t shirts. The real way that the online and offline elements of the campaign met, though, was through our placards.

An idea inspired by SCVO’s powerful #ILoveCharity campaign earlier this year, I created two placards: one for the Centre’s scientists and fundraisers; and another for the general public. This way, people could share how they were helping to #BeatMND, and/or why they wanted to beat the disease.

The placards could be downloaded from our website; filled out online; or completed in person at an engagement event, where they were then placed on our ‘wall of fame’. Photos of supporters with their placards were encouraged, as these could then be shared with a much wider audience using social media. This proved to be a great way to engage and inspire our researchers, fundraisers and the general public, as well as bringing different platforms of the campaign together.

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And finally, No. 3: Report. Thank. Repeat.

Stewardship is important, people! I can’t stress enough how vital it is to properly inform your supporters of your successes, and to thank them properly for getting involved in your campaign. For #BeatMND, I did this by creating this infographic to demonstrate our impact:

We received 34% more visitors on our website… And this Storify, which was shared extensively on social media:

Thanks for reading! Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below.

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