How video and social made one student’s charity campaign a massive hit this Christmas

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With Christmas being the season of good will, charity organisations campaign heavily to raise funds at a time when people feel in the mood to give a little. However, the last year has seen a massive drop in charity donations, meaning more challenging and creative ideas are needed to raise awareness and prompt us to part with our cash.


Although not an official campaign by the charity itself, this holiday season we have been witness to a massively impressive one-man campaign that has generated over £26,000 for charity so far.


James Beavis, a 22 year old medical science student from Devon, volunteered to spend the 8 nights he would typically spend with his family, sleeping on the streets of London. His objectives were two-fold:


a)      To raise funds for Crisis, the homeless charity he volunteers for


b)      To change the opinions people have towards those on the streets


To kick start the campaign, James built the necessary fundraising page, sent a few emails to friends and family, and set up an event on Facebook  inviting those he knew, although interest started to rise, it certainly wasn’t groundbreaking.


It was only when James uploaded an 8 minute video that interest picked up. In it, he described what he was doing, why, and what he was taking with him. But most importantly, he detailed how we the viewer could help, listing a menu of donation amounts and what they could buy for the Crisis organisation; “4 mates donating a fiver could get someone off the streets this Christmas”. On top of this, James offered just donating 5 minutes of our time as an alternative (or addition) to cash; telling us how sharing the Facebook event, YouTube video and fundraising page could help save lives.


Video views, event attendees and donations leapt by their thousands within 24 hours of the first video being uploaded, with donation amounts trending around the menu he detailed. On seeing this response to video content, James bought a £30 video camera and pledged to keep a video diary of his experience.


During his 8 days on the streets, James gained press coverage across his home counties of Devon and Hertfordshire, his University town of Warwick and an impressive interview on BBC Radio London, all of which added small peaks to donation activity. However, it was the three video diary accounts uploaded to YouTube throughout the week that generated much higher response rates. James gave the viewer a real account of both physical and emotional reality of being homeless including details on begging, eating food from a bin, and the importance of cardboard. Not only did this inform the viewer but the nature of the content prompted them to share it with others. Word spread beyond his social network swiftly with hundreds of donations coming from people stating “I don’t know you but –”.


Following 8 nights and 9 days on the streets of London, James returned to his family having not only raised over £25,000 for the organisation he loves, but with a mass of social media comments stating that their views on the homeless had been changed completely. Mission complete.


As human beings, we’re more than proud and impressed that someone we know and love is capable of achieving such great things. As professionals in the communication industry, this campaign has informed and delighted us in how the combination of video and social is an absolute winner if you have the right and relevant approach to the content.


To view more details on James’ campaign visit