While there have been many great charity awareness campaigns – raising funds and sharing information about everything from flood victims to farm animals – there are some that stand out above the rest. These are often the ones that you remember from your childhood and find yourself getting ready for as they come around for another year, getting bigger and better as time moves on. Here are some of the best charity awareness campaigns.
The World's Biggest Coffee Morning
What could be more British than having what is effectively a giant tea party as a way to raise money for charity? As one of the biggest annual campaigns run by Macmillan Cancer Care, the World's Biggest Coffee Morning is a top health awareness campaign that aims to raise money for the services the charity provides, including local information, support services for patients and their families, and cancer specialists across the country. The first event was held in 1990 as part of a local fundraising committee, before a nationwide launch in 1991. The World's Biggest Coffee Morning has since gone on to become MacMillan's biggest fundraising campaign and the charity now holds the Guinness World Record for the Largest Simultaneous Coffee Party.
While the official date of the coffee morning for 2017 is the 29th of September, Macmillan encourages participants to hold their event on whatever date works best for the host and their guests. The basic premise of the coffee morning encourages atendees to make a donation in exchange for the coffee and cakes provided at their event but there is a great amount of wiggle room for hosts to truly make it their own, whether this is by adding a dress-up element, world record attempts, or simply including raffles and games to increase engagement and fun.
The World's Biggest Coffee Morning campaign has raised more than £75 million since its first event in 1991. This money has contributed to the funding of 6900 Macmillan nurses and other healthcare professionals by the end of 2016, to help make a difference for people with cancer. Additionally, the money raised by the World's Biggest Coffee Morning and other Macmillan Cancer Care health awareness campaigns has allowed the charity to provide grants and support to help people face the added costs of cancer.
Any discussion about successful charity awareness campaigns must include Comic Relief. Through the alternation annual telethons (Red Nose Day and Sport Relief) taking place in March each year, this well-known British staple declares its purpose to be about driving positive change through entertainment, with a particular focus on improving the lives of disadvantaged people. Since its 1985 beginning on Noel Edmonds' Late, Late Breakfast Show in response to the widespread famine in Ethiopia at the time, Comic Relief has gone on to support more than 2000 projects throughout the UK and the world. Addressing issues such as education, mental health, and immunisation, the campaign tackles some serious subjects with the full force of the British comedic sensibility.
Taking place on alternating years, the two telethon flagships of Comic Relief attract a wealth of British celebrities to help raise money for their causes. Red Nose Day takes place on every odd year, including this year's 2017 event, and is well-known for the wacky foam or plastic noses that appear in supermarkets and charity shops in the lead up to the television show. This event encourages its audience to bring out their inner clown to raise awareness and have a little fun while doing some good in the world. Its sister event, Sport Relief, takes place on every even year and focuses on getting the British public active to raise money for people in need. During their telethon's, the BBC is taken over for an evening. The CBBC starts things off with their own reports, events, and celebrity gungings, and then the regular BBC programming is suspended from 7pm to allow for the various comedy sketches, clips, and activities to take place. The audience is encouraged to make donations and they are kept informed of the night's running total throughout the course of the event. Together Red Nose Day and Sport Relief have brought great success to the Comic Relief campaign and, following the 2017 event, they have raised over £1 billion.
Alongside the televised aspect of Comic Relief, people are also encouraged to set up their own events to raise money for people in need. Fundraising packs are available for both Red Nose Days and Sport Relief events to allow schools, businesses, and communities to get involved with the Comic Relief causes. The red noses of the campaign themselves are also another way for people to get involved with Comic Relief as, along with acting as a successful promotional tool, they are given in exchange for donation to the charity. With a number of easy ways to engage with Comic Relief, it is clear to see why it belongs on this list of charity awareness campaigns.
The Poppy Appeal
November is known as a period of Remembrance, thinking of service men and women who were killed in times of conflict, and the red poppy is the symbol that epitomises this time. It is a symbol that is instantly recognisable and lends itself to one of the top charity awareness campaigns. The British Legion's Poppy Appeal was set up in 1921, making it one of the oldest campaigns on this list, with the primary aim of raising money to aid veterans find housing and employment after World War 1. Red silk poppies, inspired by the war time poem In Flanders Fields, were created and sold rapidly to raise over £106, 000. The Poppy Factory, which is still running today, was created in the following year to provide employment for disabled veterans and to create the poppies for subsequent annual appeals.
The red poppies of the Poppy Appeal, now made of paper rather than silk, are given out in exchange for donations throughout the year but particularly in the lead up to the Remembrance period. By wearing the poppies, people are able to show their respect for those who have been involved in the conflicts since the First World War and there are a number of events held throughout the period of Remembrance. In recent years this has included the sea of poppies outside the Tower of London and the “Weeping Window” at Caernarfon Castle. Any money raised by the Poppy Appeal charity awareness campaign goes towards causes supported by the British Legion and the creation of the poppies provides employment and support for disabled ex-servicemen.
From one of the oldest annual charity awareness campaigns to one of the newest, Movember started with a group of Australian friends deciding to take on the facial hair challenge to raise awareness about men's health and prostate cancer. It has gone on to become a global campaign, reaching the UK in 2007 in association with The Prostate Cancer Charity and growing over 5 million moustaches.
On average men die earlier than women, are three times more likely than women to commit suicide, and instances of prostate and testicular cancer are on the rise. As “the face of men's health” the Movember campaign encourages men to make a statement with their moustaches for the month of November, growing it out and styling it creatively, to raise money and awareness about men's health causes. In 2016, the Movember Foundation brought in a new way to raise money and awareness for their campaign by creating Move for Movember. This aspect of the campaign encourages everyone – the hirsute and the hairless – to get more active for the 30 day period and keep up the conversation about men's health.
Though it is a young charity awareness campaign compared to some, Movember has already garnered some success for its associated causes. With funding raised through Movember efforts, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre made a great research breakthrough when they found that there are over 25 different kinds of prostate cancer. It has also raised well over £443 million since its 2003 creation.
Race for Life
While there are various ways to raise money and awareness, with a wealth creative and very different ideas, the sponsored run has remained a staple of charity fundraising. Cancer Research UK's Race for Life is one of the most well-known of this kind of campaign, with over 8 million people taking part in its twenty year history – impressive for women-only events. The Race for Life is another charity awareness campaign that has grown markedly from its 1994 inception, growing from one run in Battersea Park to multiple kinds of runs all around the country, all working towards raising money for research on all types of cancer.
Runners for Race for Life events – whether it be a 5 kilometre walk or a full marathon run, Pretty Muddy or one of the new hiking challenges – receive fundraising packs and information on how to gather sponsorship while they train for their race. The money raised through the Race for Life campaign and other events, helps Cancer Research UK work towards the prevention and treatment of the 200 types of cancer. This top charity awareness campaign has successfully raised over £547 million for its cause and contributes to numerous on-going research projects to understand how cancer works in the hopes that they can find a cure.
While each of these appeals tackles very different causes in a variety of ways, their focus on spreading awareness about their charity and engaging their audience through creativity and passion is what makes them successful charity awareness campaigns.