Hey, it’s ok to celebrate creativity in charities

By Matilda Macduff 12 April 2012

UK women’s magazine Glamour runs a feature every month called ‘Hey, it’s ok’, listing things that you shouldn’t feel bad about doing because secretly, everyone does them. They’re usually light-hearted and funny—‘Hey, it’s ok to buy an album just to listen to two songs’, or ‘if your hometown accent only comes out when you’re throwing a strop’. It’s a popular column, and a catchphrase that’s well-known to the magazine’s readers.

This month, Glamour has teamed up with mental health charity Mind to launch a campaign around depression. It’s centred on a video called ‘Hey, it’s ok to talk about depression’ which features Glamour readers and celebrities talking about their experiences. The campaign aims to raise awareness of depression as a problem that affects many of Glamour’s (mostly young, female) readers, and encourage people experiencing depression to talk about it, share what they’re going through and seek help.

The Mind/Glamour campaign is a great example of an imaginative and effective way to reach a new audience using channels they are already engaged with and talking in a way which will appeal to them. Hooking the campaign onto an existing popular feature in the magazine is a great move, and by teaming up with Glamour, Mind can reach a demographic who may know about their work but might not think about it’s relevance to them. The partnership has already (a week in) been very successful in reaching out to an audience who may otherwise be hard to reach, and hopefully started to challenge perceptions around depression.

Charities face some of the most demanding briefs when it comes to communications—they have to make people feel emotionally engaged with problems which may seem far removed from their daily lives; alter the way people view particular issues which may traditionally have been taboo; and motivate people to change their behaviour. Doing all this successfully with a charity budget requires heaps of creativity and inspired thinking—and the innovation and imagination shown by a lot of charities is something we should celebrate.

The charity sector is home to so many creative campaigns—from Beatbullying’s Big March, to the hugely successful Movember, which in 2011 attracted over 253,500 participants in the UK alone. Movember achieves the double-whammy of raising awareness of prostate and testicular cancer (you can’t help but ask someone with a comedy moustache what it’s in aid of) and raising funds (over £18.5 million in the UK in 2011) for research into the diseases.

These campaigns just go to show that imaginative thinking is alive and well in the charity sector—creative approaches which succeed in getting people talking about difficult issues like depression, bullying and testicular cancer, and help overcome taboos and social stigma. I’m sure there are hundreds of examples of charities of all sizes who have come up with creative ways to get their message across on limited resources—and would love to see or hear about examples in the comments.