How a Non Profit is Attracting Young Donors Through a Fake News Campaign

By Jordi Lippe-McGraw Jordi Lippe-McGraw has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on October 28, 2021

Nonprofits survive on the philanthropy of others and have to compete to gain the attention of potential donors. Many focus on the most giving age group–61 to 75-year-olds–, but there’s been a shift lately with younger donors taking the lead. And that’s precisely why one organization is shifting its marketing strategy.

A new study revealed that even though millennials were hit hard by the pandemic, they became the most generous. Nearly 3 out of 4 of those aged 25 to 34 gave money over to charitable causes since the Covid-19 pandemic began. That’s the highest rate across generations, with Gen Z just behind with a 66% giving rate. Baby boomers were at the bottom of the list.

Younger generations are using their wallets to speak out on issues they’re passionate about. So, Concern Worldwide US–a global humanitarian organization dedicated to eliminating extreme poverty–decided to create a new ad campaign that brings NGO advertising to the modern era. And that campaign plays off of something very much in the cultural zeitgeist at the moment: fake news.

This is not your typical NGO “poverty porn” campaign featuring sad music over a montage of malnourished children. Instead, the campaign, #UnfortunatelyFakeNews, launched recently and puts a spotlight on the 1% of the world who are capable of truly making a difference with extreme poverty but have yet to offer their resources in a way that will truly aid.

Created by the Fred & Farid agency, the #UnfortunatelyFakeNews campaign features national print, online, and fake newsreels, in addition to carefully placed out-of-home advertisements in San Francisco, Boston, and Atlanta. Each ad draws inspiration from headline news around the 1%. But, references are intentionally general, applying to any number of people or organizations. 

For example, a billboard strategically placed on the way to Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium reads, “One step closer to ending extreme poverty. New England magnate sells his sports team for billions to help. #UnfortunatelyFakeNews. Until it’s real, please donate.” Or one in San Francisco that reads, “Space can wait. Billionaire puts passion project on hold. Redirects billions towards ending extreme poverty. #UnfortunatelyFakeNews. Until it’s real, please donate.”

By removing the expected images of poverty, Concern is flipping the script on traditional nonprofit advertising — focusing less on the issues that separate potential donors from their program participants and more on the global inequities we can all relate to. In doing so, they hope people (especially a new generation of supporters) will feel more invested in being part of the solution.

“There are two important trends that are igniting this change. One: organizations like ours and their donors are becoming more diverse, which naturally requires messaging and marketing to be more inclusive,” said Colleen Kelly, CEO of Concern Worldwide US. “Two: the entrance of Gen Z as donors, but also as influencers in society.”

According to Big Sea, most Social Scientists believe Gen Z to be the most socially conscious generation yet. That’s why Concern believes nonprofits across sectors need to change their tactics. 

“The donor audience is a lot more aware of how marketing can reinforce harmful stereotypes,” said Kelly. “By removing the expected images of poverty, we have flipped the script on standard nonprofit advertising, focusing less on ourselves and the issues that separate our donors from our program participants and more on the global inequities we can all relate to.”

She added, “This is something any nonprofit can do regardless of their mission. We hope people– especially a new generation of supporters–will feel more invested in being part of the solution.”

By Jordi Lippe-McGraw Jordi Lippe-McGraw has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Jordi Lippe-McGraw is a News Columnist at Grit Daily. A multi-faceted NYC-based journalist, her work on topics from travel to finance have been featured in the New York Times, WSJ Magazine, TODAY, Conde Nast Traveler, and she has appeared on TODAY and MSNBC for her expertise. Jordi has also traveled to more than 30 countries on all 7 continents and is a certified coach teaching people how to leave the 9-to-5 behind.

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