3 lessons in innovation from 3 leading charities

Each year, Dóchas recognises charities for their inventive and inspiring programmes. They aim to encourage charities to share their ideas and successes, as well as celebrate the pioneers of the charity sector. Recently LIKECHARITY clients Plan International Ireland, Oxfam and Trócaire were recognised by Dóchas for their innovative programmes fighting for justice.

Each of the nominees were among the first charities in Ireland to embrace LIKECHARITY’s innovative Engage platform to recruit regular donors. We are honoured to partner with organisations who are using innovative ideas and technologies to revolutionise the charity sector. Using these three successful programmes as an example, we’ve compiled a few tips that could make a huge difference in your future campaigns...


Oxfam Ireland - ‘Female Food Heroes’

The 3 finalists and Oxfam staff.

The 3 finalists and Oxfam staff.

Oxfam’s nominated programme was all about the working women of Nigeria. Oxfam brought 12 successful female Nigerian farmers to Lagos, for a week of self-growth activities and classes, leading up to the final awards ceremony. The events throughout the week were filmed and are currently being compiled into a series of TV shows. The purpose of the ‘Female Food Heroes’ programme is to celebrate female farmers who are stimulating the economy through agriculture, and empowering other Nigerian women to do the same.

How to apply this: Celebrate the people you serve

So now the question is “how can my charity use this innovative example to influence our future programmes?”. The answer is simple - look to the people you’re serving. The most successful and fruitful campaigns are cause-driven, keeping the mission at the centre of the campaign.

Oxfam did this by celebrating and educating the people of Nigeria:

  • They created wonderful publicity for the ‘female food heroes’ of Nigeria by showcasing how they have thrived despite hardships
  • They invested in the future of Nigerian women by teaching the nominees valuable skills in stress management and healthy living

And you can do it too! Keep your cause in everything you do - you’re looking to recruit donors - show them who they’ll be helping; you want to raise awareness - display true stories about the people you help and the issues you’re tackling. When you engage a donor with the story of your cause, they form a deeper relationship with your charity, making long-term donations more likely.


Trócaire - ‘Tackling Domestic Violence through Working with Faith Communities’

In their domestic violence prevention programme, Trócaire partnered with the Catholic Church and women’s rights NGO, Raising Voices, to highlight the issue of domestic violence in Uganda. Trócaire recognised that people were more likely to listen and respond to familiar organisations so they worked with local churches to incorporate anti-domestic violence education into their sermons and worship materials.

Trócaire describes the programme as having two parts:

  1. An annual national domestic violence prevention campaign held during the season of Advent
  2. An ongoing comprehensive community engagement methodology for select dioceses

The Church highlighted Trócaire’s message in prayer cards and sermons. Trócaire also trained religious leaders to start the conversation about domestic violence with members of the congregation.

How to apply this: Partner up

Partnerships can be an incredibly useful tool in the charity world. Partner organisations help publicise to a larger audience, which is exactly what this partnership did for Trócaire.

When considering this technique, determine what kinds of people/organisations align best with your charity. No matter the cause, there is power in numbers. So enlist the help of a strong and reliable partner and together you can achieve your common goals.


Plan International Ireland - ‘Promoting Birth Registration for Children’s Development and Protection’

Plan International Ireland’s award-winning programme had one simple goal; to protect the children of Liberia and Sierra Leone. To achieve this, Plan set up mobile birth registration systems that have already provided 445,188 birth certificates to unregistered children.

Registering a child’s birth helps to protect children from “child labour, forcible conscription into armed forces, child marriages, trafficking and sexual exploitation” says Vanina Trojan, Child Rights & Advocacy Officer at Plan International Ireland.

The success of this programme, says Ms. Trojan, was due to the creative use of technology. Mobile registration units using digital registration software made the process much more convenient for parents in Sierra Leone and Liberia to register their child’s birth. It let families avoid travelling long distances to registration centres and proved much quicker than paper-based methods. Plan also created a web-based database that allows relevant government agencies to view and analyse birth information, helping them to plan services accordingly.

How to apply this: Learn to love technology

Plan International Ireland invested in simple, innovative technologies which helped them to reach a larger amount of people and register as many births as possible.

Here are two of the most effective ways to become tech-savvy...

1. Invest in employees that understand technology

  • Your IT department is your best friend. Plan International Ireland employees developed technology that is now drastically improving the lives of children in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Build a team that is forward-thinking and they will make innovative solutions like Plan’s the norm.

2. Create a social media presence

  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are your best assets when it comes to promoting your cause. Pinpoint where your supporters are spending their time on the web and promote your cause there to see the greatest results in donations.


Plan  International Ireland’s willingness to embrace technology provided them an easy-to-use method of registering children’s births in Liberia and Sierra Leone, this led to an increase in the number of births registered and ensured more children are now legally protected by their official documentation. For this programme Plan International Ireland were the winners of the Dóchas Innovative Programme Award.


Congratulations to the Dóchas Innovative Programme Award-winner, Plan International Ireland, as well as nominees, Oxfam and Trócaire on their incredible work!

All of these charities use LIKECHARITY's Engage Platform to recruit regular donors - Click here to learn how Engage can help your charity!