Guerrilla Marketing For Charities

“Guerrilla marketing” for the most part is one of those undefinable buzzwords, like ‘viral’, which many marketers attribute a mythical control/hold over i.e. let’s go viral on the 23rd or our let’s launch our guerilla marketing campaign next Wednesday. Many marketers convince themselves that great things will happen once their viral campaign launches or that their mere inception of a guerrilla marketing plan means that they’re on course for success.   As a result most guerilla marketing campaigns formulated this way are usually just a carbon copy of what successfully worked six or eight months previously – yes five years on and the very suggestion of a flash mob still reduces any hardened marketer to tears. What makes guerilla marketing so potentially successful and hard to pin down is its originality and departures from the norm. In short there is no magical formula but there are similar features most campaigns share; originality, element of surprise, flipping of expectations and ability to entertain or provoke a visceral response/reaction.

One of the great benefits of guerilla marketing to charities is the relatively low cost factor as highlighted in LIKECHARITY’s own collaboration with the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association for the Ice Bucket Challenge, which resulted in over 550,000 text donations - raising over €1 million in the process. What helped this campaign aside from it’s easy text call to action was the sense of involvement people felt i.e. people weren’t just donating two euro to a cause but participating in a fun way to help spread the message - people felt an affinity to the cause and the organization.

Here are a few examples of some fantastic charities who’ve clearly mastered the art.

1.       Misereor; an organization fighting against poverty and injustice discovered over 40% of payments made in Europe are made via credit card which inspired this interactive billboard. What makes this campaign so fantastic is not only the way it encapsulates the organisation’s values and messaging but uses them to “free a child” via a simple credit card payment, bridging the gap between where your money goes through the experience of symbolically freeing a child with your donation.

2.  Charity: Water; again a very simple message delivered beautifully by juxtaposing the realities of Westerners use of water with the everyday hardships experienced by other less fortunate countries. 

3. Feed SA: another fantastic and incredibly visceral campaign which would surely pull at even the most ardent of Grinches’ heartstrings. This also ties in perfectly with Feed SA’s goal of eradicating hunger in Africa.

4.    ACAT; Christian human rights organization ACAT used public bus seats to drive home the horrors of torture. What makes this campaign so impacting is it that it gives people a brief sense of how it might feel to be in a similar situation.

5.  WWF; What makes the World Wildlife Fund’s campaign so memorable is that it manages to take a big issue, saving the planet and reduces it to a very simple objective – use less paper, while simultaneously showing how reducing paper consumption can achieve this goal in a practical everyday example. 


6. The Bourne Agency; came up with the ingenious idea of transforming their own building to raise awareness for a charity book sale.

The key to success when using guerrilla marketing as a strategy is commitment and persistence.  As Jay Conrad Levinson (creator of the term “guerrilla marketing”) once said, "Mediocre marketing with commitment works better than brilliant marketing without commitment."  He believes that with this marketing strategy, you should start to see results in three months, profits in six months, and increased profits every month after that. So what are you waiting for?