So much has happened in the charity marketing sector in 2012 that it's easy to forget a viral video, a successful campaign or a creative use of social media that helped increase donations or raise awareness. Here we take a look back over the year to review some of our highlights.

Back at the beginning of 2012 we made our predictions about the trends to watch out for. We thought it would be a year of cost-cutting, mobile giving, new forms of digital donation systems and gamification. Reflecting on our predictions, it’s safe to say the year has seen a lot of cost-cutting which in turn has encouraged innovative fundraising throughout the year. We thought now would be a good time to look back at our favourite campaigns, digital developments and viral sensations of 2012.


In January, Save The Children took the lead in using augmented reality for a charity campaign when they launched their East Africa appeal. By holding a tablet over their newsletter, readers could see extra content and learn more about the stories. The technology was developed with the team at Aurasma but their blog explains that there’s still a lot of room for development. Over the course of the year augmented reality technology has improved and we’ve blogged about other charities using the technology. 2013 could be the year that further ground is broken using augmented reality.


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Mobile giving was thrown into the limelight in February with JustTextGiving offering free Fundraising packs, whilst the annual Fairtrade Fortnight saw the Co-operative group make use of Twitter to interact with supporters. The Co-operative group used their Twitter feed to host a Q&A with Joseph Cheruiyot, Chair of Fintea Growers which is a Fairtrade-certified tea grower. They used the hashtag #FairtradeTalk to highlight their questions whilst responses were sent from an account specially created for the touring tea-growers.

Twitter live chats have become a common sight in 2012 and charity hashtags have been trending more than ever.


The one charity video that got everyone talking this year has to be the Kony 2012 campaign from Invisible Children. A thirty minute long video, the film was much longer than your average charity film but in March it went viral to say the least. At the time of writing, the clip has been viewed over 95 million times, has just been featured as one of Marketing Magazine’s brand moment of 2012.

The video and surrounding campaign faced a lot of criticism after the film went viral for reasons covered in our Kony 2012 blog, but the fact that a campaign video was watched by so many people is something that charities can learn lessons from.


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This year has seen a lot of new players on the social media scene. Whilst many charities are making the most of Twitter and Facebook, fewer have an active presence on Instagram, Pinterest and Storify. In April, Storify looked at charitable organisations which were using their platform and created a story linking together the different campaigns.

One highlighted was this Storify of Ian Botham’s charitable walks which used photos, tweets and links to news stories to form a really informative story.


It was Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 9th May and we learnt lots of tips to improve accessibility through the #GAAD hashtag which we summarised on our blog. A few weeks later the new EU cookie directive meant that organisations and their websites’ had to be more transparent.  So May was a month very much focused on creating the best web experience for everyone.

May was also the month in which a very special episode of The Secret Millionaire was shown where Matthew Newbury headed to North Manchester to learn more about MaD Theatre Company, Challenge4Change and Alex Williams’ work for The Meningitis Trust. The episode had a huge impact on the whole Reason Digital team and Alex’s story led to us spend a week volunteering for the Meningitis Trust and we also worked with MaD on their new website to see the impact a TV appearance can have on a charity’s website traffic and brand awareness.


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The Co-operate app was launched in June rewarding people for working together. Available on both iPhone and Androids, the app uses location based technology to allow users to find co-operatives in their local area and unlock rewards for doing so.

At the end of the month, we launched this infographic for Halton Housing Trust which helps viewers visualise the changes to the Welfare Reform. We’re big fans of infographics in the office and think they’re a great way for organisations to communicate with supporters.

Also in June, the power of viral appeared once more when Scottish school girl Martha Payne’s blog, NeverSeconds, made the headlines and in turn raised over £126,000 for Mary’s Meals – an international charity providing food to poverty-stricken children


As the Olympics began, so too did a summer of great charity campaigns. We rounded up our favourites in this handy blog, but we particularly enjoyed working on the Living Streets’ Ice Cream Calculator which uses a fun website app to encourage people to start walking more.

Fitness was also a focus for Charity Miles – an app created to build upon the success of sponsored runs and walks to get people to donate to any of a range of charities.

And whilst it might not have been the hottest Olympics, sun protection was a focus for Cancer Research’s summer video campaign. As well as the video, the charity also ran a competition to raise awareness of skin cancer with their Made In The Shade campaign.


Wateraid app

In August, we loved this helpful infographic from JustGiving about how older donors were embracing online giving – it helped us combat the myth that only young people donate online amongst several other fundraising myths.

We were also fans of WWF’s summer campaign encouraging people to explore London by the water using a new app, QR codes and Google Maps.  The app uses augmented reality in certain locations and offers users the chance to view videos and participate in interactive quizzes. It’s a great app and combines digital technology with real world activities showing how digital can be used alongside other campaigns.

August also saw the launch of the world’s first charity iBook, Holding Onto Hope, raising money for Ovacome and raising awareness of Ovarian cancer. Available for download onto iPads for £2.49, the iBook features poignant photos of celebrities who are close to the cause.


WaterAid used Instagram as a central part of their Big Dig campaign in September. The charity used the photo sharing service to document the drilling of wells in Malawi as they were being made. A blog had ben used throughout the build up to the drilling of the wells and continued to document stories, videos and photos after the successful digging.

The campaign has raised over £2million and The Big Dig website promises to continue to document the progress as they try and provide clean water and sanitation to thousands of communities.


Stand Up for cancer website

October was a busy month with a successful World Mental Health Day, the first Day of The Girl and National Coming Out day as well as the launch of Channel 4’s night of fundraising for Stand Up To Cancer.

We were big fans of Time To Change’s interactive pledge wall using photos and videos to share over 25,000 stories helping to end the mental health stigma. The wall added a different dimension to the website and encouraged interactions from supporters as well as donations.


Now a regular feature on the calendar, this year’s Movember campaign saw the launch of a Movember mobile app to help fundraisers track their progress, view style guides and view men’s health information. Additionally, this year saw a range of Movember infographics being created to support the campaign documenting everything from ‘tache styles to prostate cancer statistics.


Reason Digital xmasjumperday

As the end of the year drew closer, December became all about Christmas fundraising. One of the most successful social media campaigns came from Save The Children with their #xmasjumperday campaign gaining a lot of high profile media support.

We enjoyed seeing many other charities integrating the festive season into their fundraising campaigns with some of the best on our Christmas campaign roundup.

It’s been a great year for digital media in the charity sector and we’ve really enjoyed working with so many inspirational organisations. Let us know your highlights of the year by leaving a comment below, or drop up an email if you’d like some help to create a new campaign or website in 2013.

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