3 Tips to Help You Increase Engagement on a Budget for Non-Profits

  • Any industry, regardless of the cause and initiative of its campaigns, needs to provide exposure for people to actually know about them.
  • This also applies to charity campaigns, non-profit organisations and fundraising for a good cause.
  • Bearing in mind the unique traits of these sectors, it's obvious that fishing for exposure here should be done more carefully. But how exactly?

increase engagement on a budget

This article aims to provide some often hard to find advice on getting the most out of fundraising related video and content creation investment.

* Maximising content investment and directing budget (smaller budgets)

* Engage in ideas & styles that diversify the feel of your messages (midsize budgets)

* Harnessing the true power of Tech and Online platforms (bigger budgets)

Every single charity event, campaign, cause and fundraising initiative is worthy in its own right, and there are so many out there seeking crucial donor support. For people willing and able to fiscally support worthy causes, the difficult choice is not whether to donate but rather who to donate to. Who would have thought the act of giving in aid of worthy causes was an exercise in navigating such a congested and competitive market? A plethora of would be donors- wallets open, consciences willing- await on social media and Online channels. Capturing and holding their attention with clear, diverse and engaging messaging is crucial to building the visibility of causes.

Maximising video content investment and directing budget (smaller budgets)

In a nutshell, no level of investment in branded content is too small. The best use of a limited budget is diversifying messaging, maximising post'able content, and investing in Online proliferation.

An unfortunate trend we’ve noted throughout our existence is an agency tendency to sting an organisation ‘full freight’ for one off videos that are ill-fitted to Online channels. We’ve seen so many videos with budgets upwards of 10-20 thousand dollars (and more) languishing on Youtube with less than 500 views. They were too long to catch the attention on social media, and budgets had dried up too much on the creation of them to be invested further into actually getting them seen. Some agencies don’t seem to advise their clients that the biggest global content hosting platforms- Google, Facebook and the like- simply don’t (and won't) show stuff for free. Non-personal video content on these mega-platforms are like pot plants on the balcony; they  need to be sprinkled with water and sunlight (in other words, money) to thrive.

We learned very early that a budget can go a lot further, and now no job happens without this approach. Firstly, we will split it right down the middle. Half of it is going on sponsoring, targeted marketing, boost posting, google ads, even in-app advertising. That’s a given, and anyone not prepared to go down that path should be seriously questioning their intentions of spending money on video content in the first place.

The other half- the production half- captures the many facets of a campaign; cause, awareness, registration info, participation stories/profiles etc. Instead of cramming all of these into one droning online video we’ll split them into shorter, sharper and far more efficient video messages. Our objective will be clear, concise messaging delivered in a way that gives an organisation enough fresh content to keep delivering for the span of a campaign.

Diverse messaging is a crucial means of grabbing attention spans and painting a true picture of a fundraising campaign. Any agency that tries to convince you otherwise, quite simply, does not have your campaigns best interests at heart.

An example of this approach recently: Global aid organisation Habitat for Humanity came to us this year with a budget that would normally cover a single longer brand video. We used it to produce a roll out of 9 x short and inspiring messages; addressing their many different global programs, awareness and education efforts, as well as recruitment of people ranging from high school kids to high flying corporate types. The direct targeting opportunities this rollout has offered them is already translating into boosts in lead generation across their various demographics.

Engage in ideas & styles that diversify the feel of your messages (midsize budgets)

Fundraising causes are, more often than not, no laughing matter, but at the same time, being open to ideas that can sometimes reduce the harrowing factor of cause-related video content can be a positive step towards inspiring widespread fundraising action. This approach is in line with the first subject of this article: content and message maximisation. With a little bit more money to invest in campaign content, organisations can indulge in creative thinking and diverse delivery styles that present their causes in many engaging tones and thereby assist in laser targeting the right audience for each message. Live action, animation, motion graphic, radio, Online billboards - as long as the brand and campaign remains consistent and visible; the tone and style in which its various messages can be delivered should be diverse and stand out for their own reasons.

A case study in point: Solid Goldfish Creative has had an association with Melanoma Institute Australia and their ‘Melanoma March’ events for the past two years, and the bulk roll out of content we have created with this amazing organisation is a blueprint of this type of thinking. Addressing the simultaneous need for cause awareness, recruitment and event information, we devised a social media, radio and TV content roll out combining animation, graphics, online billboards and live action video. The varying styles helped firmly establish the most appropriate tone for each message in a manner most appropriate for its intended audience; be it encapsulating the seriousness of the cause, building hype or creating a sense of fun. Using their ambassador- a TV personality with a personal connection to melanoma, we were able to create a strong sense of cause awareness from an authoritative voice. From there we didn’t want to diminish the impact of the ambassador’s more serious messaging, so we took their campaign logo and brought it to life as a 3D animated character- ‘Team March’- which played the very effective and fun role of educating people on the events themselves and how to get involved.

When it comes to physical event coverage- the theory is reversed. Happy montages that commemorate a public fundraising gathering are a dime-a-dozen. Spending a little bit extra can enable you to strive for greater depth and personal insight as opposed to broad brushstrokes and people giving random thumbs up’s to a camera. In our association with the Leukaemia Foundation’s ‘World’s Greatest Shave’ events, Solid Goldfish Creative has looked to bring a bit more heart to an already hugely fun and colorful national campaign. Focusing on individual profile styles- why they were doing it, who they were doing it for, how it made them feel- was a much more powerful and resonating approach.

The overall message of this section can be broken down as such:

  • Find room to celebrate the triumph of bringing people together to raise funds by looking for fun as well as sombre messaging.
  • Find a point of difference in what you are creating by engaging ideas that present the campaign in diverse and interesting visual styles.
  • If you are willing to invest in a Videographer to cover your event, go further and invest in an actual content producing Videographer that doesn’t just ‘point and shoot,’ but finds a story and personal connection.

Harnessing the true power of Tech and Online platforms (bigger budgets)

In this era of twitchy touchscreen fingers, big time engagement requires more than just throwing a video on a busy social media timeline. In a world populated by many who are more exuberant and willing to express themselves on social media than they are face to face, the holy grail of effective campaigns are those that give people something to see AND something to do. If the budget allows it, it is well worth developing ideas that genuinely give people content to interact with, buttons to push and experiences to share.

Too many organisations treat social media platforms as mere photo/video walls. Yet they are so much more. Harnessing the true potential of app technology and social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and 'Snapchat' to create genuine shared experiences for fundraising campaigns is an excellent way to inspire genuine involvement. In short; if it exists as a tool or feature on Facebook, it absolutely can be adapted or built to your brand. If it doesn’t, there’s every chance it can be built for you. Whatever your campaign event is, there is surely an app that can be developed to take the physical experience into a virtual space. Some big (and sadly Top Secret) ideas Solid Goldfish Creative are developing in this vein include:

  • Building a campaign-specific, user-friendly and fun interactive feature on an existing social media platform,
  • Adapting an existing ‘Augmented Reality’ feature and making it a fundraising tool,
  • Creating a video blogging campaign tool for users to track their progress in physical challenge related campaigns, or to give ‘shout outs’ as to why they are supporting a certain cause,
  • Building shared platforms for team based campaigns: allowing users to fundraise, upload their own cause supporting content & challenge their fellow users to act,
  • Developing in-built applications that tasks people to take some sort of fun and relatable action in the name of a cause.

The goal is creating colorful dedicated fundraising hubs that embrace technological trends and advances, then giving users the keys to drive a campaign towards virality. This approach starts with a good idea, and only the imagination limits where it can end up.

Happy fundraising, folks!


Joel Spreadborough

Joel Spreadborough

Director at Solid Goldfish Creative

Solid Goldfish Creative are a boutique and end-to-end creative agency specialising in content creation and creative consultancy for corporate and not for profit organisations. Delivering diverse creative solutions for brands across Social Media, Online, Print and Broadcast platforms. Services include: Creative marketing concepts, video production, copywriting services, post-production, graphic design, web, animation, photography, copywriting.

Solid Goldfish Creative

Solid Goldfish Creative

Marketing and communications


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Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt , Owner at Startup Chucktown

Definitely a lot of ideas to ponder from this article. I think bite sized chunks across demographics or various mediums is a great way to experiment with different approaches.