Storytelling at center of water charity campaign

NEW YORK: Nonprofit charity: water is using video outreach and word of mouth around its annual September Campaign, kicking off on August 16.

NEW YORK: Nonprofit charity: water is using video outreach and word of mouth around its annual September Campaign, kicking off on August 16.

Each year, the organization celebrates its birthday and focuses on a specific region.

Working with GolinHarris and Razorfish on a pro bono basis, the organization is creating a series of videos to tell the story of this year's region, the Central African Republic, and the bayaka people who live there. The organization hopes to raise $1.7 million during the month, all of which goes directly to providing clean and safe drinking water, said Paull Young, director of digital for charity: water.

Watch PRWeek's interview with Paull Young

"Raising funds is the biggest goal," he added. "However, we're telling the story of the Central African Republic and the bayaka people. Most people don't know where the Central African Republic is or anything about it - hence our focus on creating really great video content."

The campaign use its website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter, with the organization also live-streaming as it drills a well, the first one of the September campaign, in the Central African Republic on September 7.  

"It really is a word-of-mouth strategy and a social-media-led strategy," Young said. He added that GolinHarris is focusing on media and blogger outreach to supplement that, targeting technology, social media, environmental, and women's outlets.

"We're crossing many verticals," Young added. "Water touches so many issues that we can reach out to all the bloggers in that space."

Idil Cakim, SVP in interactive media for GolinHarris, said the campaign is building awareness of the organization, highlighting the importance of clean drinking water, and encouraging consumers to launch their own fundraising campaigns.

Charity: water allows people to "give up their birthdays" and have friends and family donate to charity: water in their honor instead, Young explained. The organization is highlighting celebrities who have started their own  birthday campaigns, including Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Jessica Stroup (90210), and Matt Hasselbeck (NFL's Seattle Seahawks).

"To promote these key messages, we are building online partnerships," Cakim said. The agency is working with MetaCafe, SheSpeaks, and CafeMom, among others. "We tap into these online influencers to start their own campaigns."

September campaign preview from charity: water on Vimeo.

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