Important Takeaways from 5 Best Social Media Marketing Campaigns by Non-Profits


When it comes to Nonprofits, the goal of using Social Media Marketing is not limited to raising funds, but also extends to creating awareness, increasing audience engagement and triggering emotions among people. Social media platforms enable to engage with donors, organizations and other institutions. While social media campaigns help to reach a much wider audience, spread awareness, raise huge funds and build solid roots in society.

One of the best ways to learn about building an impactful social media campaign is to learn from the best! So here are some of the most important takeaways from influential Social Media Marketing Campaigns by Non-Profits. We will look at what worked for them and how you can implement these best practices for your campaign.

1. No Shave November

The No Shave November is a month-long campaign started by Matthew Hill foundation. It is conducted yearly in November. The main aim of the campaign is to create cancer awareness and raise funds for cancer research.

no shave november

The rules for participating in No Shave November are very simple. Men and women who participate in the campaign stop grooming for 30 days and the money spend on it can be donated to the campaign.

no shave november
                                                                                          Rules – No Shave November


Through the No Shave November, the Matthew Hill foundation has raised over 5 million dollars since 2009. The raised funds go directly to provide education, cancer prevention, and research. The Foundation enjoys organic growth ever since the launch of the campaign.

What worked?

By urging men and women to refrain from grooming, the campaign succeeded in creating chatter and create awareness among the public about cancer.

  • The campaign used social learning theory, that makes people acquire and imitate other people’s behaviors. Then channeled those behaviors to create awareness and raise funds for the cause. Network effects and word of mouth marketing through social media helped No Shave November become viral. 
  • The campaign used a strategy that renews every year. This helps to reduce money on advertising annually and accumulate money in bulk during November.
  • The campaign succeeded in finding a niche and driving audience engagement through Facebook and become a cult. 

No shave november facebook page

  • The campaign also raised funds from Facebook users by selling their own merchandise.

2. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a popular fundraising campaign by ALS Association. The challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice and water over the person’s head and post videos of it in social media. Anyone who got invited to do the Ice Bucket Challenge should either do it or donate money to the nonprofit.

ice bucket challenge

The IBC became viral over the internet when people all over the world picked it up and started to challenge each other’s friends and families. The challenge was successful in creating awareness about the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ) disease.


The IBC raised $115 million in the summer of 2014. Since the IBC, the ALS Foundation has committed over $96.4 million toward reaching its mission, including over $84 million in research projects.

What worked?

  • The IBC gave people a reason to spread awareness about a serious cause in a light-hearted and fun-filled manner. It created buzz because of network effects – high payoffs and a low threshold value.
  • The IBC went viral as it forced people to either accept it or face damage to their reputation. When a cluster of friends in a network is invited to perform the challenge, they participate due to peer pressure. Then these participants challenge their other peers, making the challenge to spread outside the network and become viral.

This a Facebook video posted by the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The video also shows Mark challenging Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, and Reed Hastings to do the same.

3. WaterAid

Improper sanitation is a problem that affects more than 2.5 billion people globally. To make the public aware and to raise funds to resolve it, WaterAid decided to use the popular Poop emoji for their campaign. This gave rise to the #GiveaShit campaign.


As soon as the campaign started trending in social media, WaterAid went further and created an app that allowed people to make their own personalized poop emojis.


The app lets people share customized poop emojis with their family and friends. The app also facilitated a way for people to donate funds for WaterAid.

The #GiveAShit campaign generated more than 240 million impressions and helped to gain 11,000 new WaterAid supporters. It also got nominated for Shorty Industry Award for Best in Non-Profit, Shorty Industry Award for Best Use of Emojis.

What worked?

  • The #GiveAShit campaign was a light-hearted approach to a serious social problem concerning the health of people. By sharing the Poop Emoji, the Water Aid created chatter among people and used it as a vehicle to spread awareness.
  • The campaign also created custom poop emojis for social media’s biggest stars, who shared them with millions of followers. This helped the #GiveAShit campaign increase reach exponentially.

4. Denmark WWF

Denmark’s World Wildlife Fund leveraged the trend of “selfie” among users in Social Media to create a successful fundraising Campaign.


They used the hashtag phenomena by taking slogans like  “Don’t let this be my #LastSelfie” to communicate with the users in Social Media.  

What worked?

  • #LastSelfie utilized the mobile social platform; Snapchat. The campaign used the native “timed message” functionality of Snapchat. The timed messages highlight that fact that time is running out to take action and save the endangered species. Before disappearing, the timed image asked for help by sharing, adopting an animal, or donating through SMS.


  • By creating a sense of urgency, WWF created awareness among millennials with the selfie phenomenon. The SnapChat campaign thus resulted in 40,000 retweets in Twitter. It also gathered 120 million timeline views in one week. Above all, more than 50 percent of active Twitter users were exposed to the #LastSelfie hashtag.

The campaign was a big success and #LastSelfie succeded in creating global awareness. Moreover, it also helped WWF reach their donation target for the entire month within just three days.

5. #MeToo by Just Be Inc.

MeToo is one of the most talked about and trending campaign today. Interestingly, it was started by the nonprofit Just Be Inc.


The #MeToo campaign was made to provide – empowerment through empathy.

The campaign made female survivors of sexual abuse, assault, exploitation, and harassment to come out and share their stories to end exploitation against women.  The campaign got more than 2 million tweets included the hashtag “#MeToo”. 

What worked?

  • #MeToo campaign created a collective identity among women who fell prey to sexual discrimination. The campaign shared the perspective from inside the minds of the oppressed and gave them the courage to come out and share their worst experiences.
  • The #MeToo slowly converted from a social movement to endure it needs to a political movement that pursues public policy change, electing candidates and so on. The main reason that fueled the movement is the Hollywood boost it received in January 2018 and the wide adoption from celebrities and then the mass adoption by people all around the globe.  

The Major Learnings from Social Media Marketing Campaigns by Non-Profits

  • Go with a campaign that renews itself yearly:

If you are a non-profit limited by resources and funds, then you can come up with a campaign like No Shave November that renews yearly. Having a campaign that renews every year will act as a constant source of recurring income to your cause. It can also help you save money and time required to come up with new campaigns ideas every year, freeing up time to focus on what matters most to your organization.

  • Spark Action and Create Chatter

You can take Ice Bucket Challenge as an example for creating action. Create something that makes people imitate and have the potential to go viral. A simple initiative as that created awareness among people and generated enough funds for the ALS Foundation.

While the Campaign that went viral by Denmark’s World Wildlife Fund is an example of a campaign that made Chatter among people and raised huge funds.  

  • Give Something New

Give the audience something new, as did by Water Aid. By making people sharing poop Emojis, they created awareness among people and managed to raise money at the same time.

  • Educate the Audience

The #Me Too movement is the best example of this. The Campaign was instrumental in making the public realize about the huge number of women who faced sexual exploitation around the world. The movement was an eye-opener for the public. It succeeded in educating the existence of a harsh reality within the society that many people were not aware of. 

Finally, it’s you

From the above successful campaigns, you must have realized the importance of visualization and storytelling. You know how good storytelling methods can make a positive impact and in turn help you achieve your non-profit goals. Images, hashtags and real-life footage helps your audience to connect with your organization and the mission it stands for in a more impactful and emotional way.

Likewise, you can use Twitter Promoted Trends and Facebook to reach out to people. Making Thank you videos, events, and publishing contents about the milestones your organization achieved over the years can make up unique stories. Moreover, you can use these real stories as powerful tools to draw more eyes, instill emotions among people and raise huge funds.

Finally, it’s your turn to make the next viral Social Media Marketing Campaign.

You might also find these articles useful:

5 Best Video Marketing Campaigns by Nonprofits (and what you can learn from them)
Social Media Practices for Nonprofits that can Generate Amazing Results
How to effectively use LinkedIn for your Nonprofit
YouTube for Nonprofits: How to create awareness in YouTube and raise funds