Social media can help amplify a successful campaign, but charities are having to contend with a crowded space as organisations compete to be the next viral campaign.


The bottom line is that charities need to be smart and targeted if they are to get the most out of social channels for campaigning and fundraising.


In this section, Fawcett Society Chief Executive Sam Smethers shares her insights from the successful #FawcettflatFriday campaign. Ross McCulloch, director of Third Sector Lab provides some top tips on fundraising using social media.



When Nicola Thorp, an employee of agency Portico, was sent home from work at PwC for wearing flat shoes instead of heels, the Fawcett Society saw the opportunity to make a serious point in a humorous way. Here’s what we did and why it worked.


  • It was opportunistic – we were prompted by one of our supporters who is also a fundraiser, Sarah Taylor Peace, who saw the story and messaged me on Twitter saying, "Fawcett has got to capitalise on this". We quickly came up with #FawcettflatsFriday. We are small enough to put good ideas into action relatively quickly, so within 24 hours we were using the hashtag and trailing the day.

The Fawcett campaign was simple and easy for people to get involved with.

  • It was simple – the idea was to ask people to tweet photos of themselves wearing flat shoes at work on Friday and send the (rather obvious, but necessary) message that a woman doesn’t need to wear heels to do her job. We also had men tweeting photos of themselves in high heels or with painted toenails. It gave everyone a fun action they could take that would send a strong message.
  • It was fun – by the time Friday came we were already seeing lots of indications that people were going to join in but then it really took off. It was a great Friday activity and mushroomed through the day, trending throughout. By Friday evening we were trending #1 and had had 4 million impressions. It was important to us to show that this serious feminist organisation has a sense of humour and that we can deploy that to good effect to make a point.

The campaign received secondary attention via PR channels

  • It was positive – and enabled PwC staff to participate on the day. We weren’t telling them what they did wrong but simply inviting them to laugh at the ridiculousness of a dress code which stipulated women should be in high heels.
  • It was easy - well, required a bit of hard work actually with three of us tweeting and re-tweeting, responding to tweets all day, but it was a relatively easy way to do it.
  • It was cheap – always important for a small charity. We didn’t need a big campaigns budget, just a good idea and a good understanding of how to use social media.

The campaign featured in various news channels online and offline

  • It was clever – to get Fawcett into the #FawcettflatsFriday hashtag. We were promoting our charity as well as making the point. Even mainstream media headlines on the day used it.
  • It was successful – the media pick up and the support it gave to Nicola’s online Government petition means the legality of enforcing high heels is now under inquiry with the Petitions Committee and the Women and Equalities Committee, and the agency Portico immediately changed its policy to allow female staff to wear flat shoes. A win not only in defeating outdated sexism, but also for women’s feet across the country!


We want to do it again… just working on another great idea.


  • Be ready to respond quickly to a topical campaign idea.
  • Make it easy for people to get involved and participate, e.g. by providing great content and images.
  • If your social media campaign is strong, do look at opportunities for press coverage



Online giving grew by 9.2% last year according to Blackbaud, it is vital that charities get to grips with the role their website, apps and social media have to play in driving fundraising. Here’s a few of my thoughts on how you can start thinking strategically about digital as a channel to take casual supporters on a journey to becoming strong advocates who give to your cause:


There are plenty of guides out there on the fundamentals of fundraising and how to use social media as a channel to achieve organisational objectives. Make sure you understand these core principles before ploughing ahead with social media as a fundraising tool - you’ll save lots of time and money.

“The National Autistic Society has a strong online presence. During the launch of our Too Much Information we had a daily Facebook reach of more than seven million. Our sensory overload film has been viewed more than 56.4 million times worldwide. The challenge for us now is converting that engagement into giving, we’re really excited about the possibilities that using social media to fundraise could hold for our charity.”

Jo-Anne Hamilton Head of campaigns and media - National Autistic Society

National Autistic Society Sensory Campaign


11% of annual giving occurs on the last three days of the year and 29% of annual giving occurs in December, according to the Network for Good Digital Giving Index. As well as understanding the seasonal nature of when your supporters choose to give it is vital to react quickly as opportunities present themselves. This Facebook Post call to action from Children 1st came out the same day Stephen Fry made comments about child abuse victims.

Children 1st's Campaign worked because of its timeliness




This is one of the most underused fundraising tactics - with a little planning it can pay dividends. If you have a road cycling fundraising event planned, spend time engaging with potential supporters in road cycling Facebook Groups, forums, Twitter hashtags and beyond. Pay for promoted posts and ads specifically targeting road cyclists. Don’t expect them to come to you.

65% of all social media activity happens on a smartphone and 51% of people who visit your website do so on a mobile device. Responsive donation pages result in 34% more donations than non-responsive pages. If your website and online giving tools aren’t simple to use and mobile friendly it’s time to change that.

While email and Facebook may be the two big online giving channels for your organisation right now, it is worth having oversight of the ever changing social media landscape. For example, various charities are starting to utilise Snapchat as a fundraising tool and Instagram has proven successful for many non-profits. Are your supporters on those channels? Can you tell your stories on there and drive online giving as a result?'s use of Snapchat



  • Go where your audience is on social channels and make sure you are reaching them at the right time with the right content.
  • Make it easy for people to donate, including via mobile.
  • Plan ahead by keeping abreast of the trends in how other charities are using social media to fundrais



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