Here's an ad for Save the Children UK that almost got it right:
Or watch it here on YouTube.
It aired on television.
What this video does right:
- Focus on real children. It doesn't play the abstract symbol game, but shows the children in need that they're hoping to motivate donors to help. (It's sad that when nonprofit ads do this it's notable.)
- Jarring, realistic imagery. Some of the images toward the end are frankly hard to look at. No pie-in-the-sky abstractions here. That's how you get people to give.
What the video does wrong:
- Wastes time being clever. Nearly half of the meager 60 seconds is spent showing kids so close-up you can't see the problem. They're doing it for a reason -- building to a clever reveal. Being clever is a waste of time. And it's not motivating.
- Plays the numbers game. This is one of the most common of fundraising errors. Millions of children living in poverty is not a reason people respond. It's a reason they don't respond.
- No specific fundraising offer. Fundraising works when it's about action. Specific action that your audience understands and can get excited about. They were probably banking on the strong awareness that Save the Children has. And that probably helps. But relying on your brand to reel in the donation is like expecting your car to fill itself with gas.
- Call to action is on-screen only four seconds. Effective direct-response would have it visible the whole time.
I'm not calling this video a Stupid Nonprofit Ad, though it has some of the characteristics of one. Let's call it a worthy effort that succumbed to some of the temptations of glib agency style over fundraising substance.
Thanks to Osocio for the tip.