It must be overwhelmingly tempting. You're a hardworking charity. You're looking for a breakthrough.
A creative agency comes knocking. They've won awards for their creative work. You've even encountered their work in the real world. They're ready to do something creative and award-winning for you.
That's when the stupid starts.
I don't know if that's how it went for Human Appeal, a UK-based international relief organization, but I bet that's close to the reality.
Here's the short video they got:
Or see it here on YouTube.
You might have to watch it a few times to get the concept, so in case you don't have the time, I'll describe it for you:
Two little kids run happily through some kind of partly-ruined building. Suddenly, one of them freezes! You see his shadow, stopped mid-stride. But wait! That's not a kid casting that shadow, it's a bunch of Bad Stuff!! Drug paraphernalia, weapons, some other things ... it's moving a bit too fast at this point to identify most of it. The other child turns back, frightened (not nearly frightened enough, given what has just happened). She touches a bullet that's part of the Bad Stuff. It turns back into a boy!!! They hug. A whole bunch of words flash by on the screen, too quickly to read most of them. Then, bigger and slower, because they apparently want us to actually read these ones:
6.3M children need saving
Then, for five seconds, a screen with a lot of contact information on it, including: Help #ShineALight in the darkness
This video follows the lead of so many stupid nonprofit ads: It's built on abstraction. Even the call to action is abstract: "Shine a light."
Shine a light? How about actually do something to help?
But maybe that doesn't matter, because the video dosn't actually make any case that there's a problem that needs solving. It just throws out a statement: 6.3M children need saving. That's pure fundcrushing, the action-killing evil twin of fundraising.
Children around the world really do need help. I imagine quite a lot more than 6.3 million of them. And there are donors who are ready and able to help.
But clever, high-production-value abstractions will not move those people to action. It's a utter waste of time, money, and attention that saps the ability of good organization to do the realistic work of connecting with donors.
Elsewhere on the Human Appeal website, you can do all kinds of specific good things, like feed a family for £50. There should be amazing videos about that.
Thanks to Osocio for the tip.
More Stupid Nonprofit Ads.