What’s so funny about fundraising?

Non-profits tackle significant issues, which makes fundraising seriously important. And yet, sometimes the best way to raise money for heavy issues is by using a lighter touch.

Take Movember for example

Known for their playful tone and amusing images, Movember masterfully uses a humorous brand voice to draw attention to significant issues – men’s mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

For example, their Father’s Day campaign leads with “Fighting for the silver mo, the one all men should get to grow”. It’s this sort of balance that hooks donors – entertaining them with the notion of championing a silver moustache, and driving the messaging home by conveying the seriousness and urgency of addressing men’s health.

Another campaign for Movember used humour head-on, suggesting that “without a moustache, you’re 60 per cent less likely to be funny”. This not only encouraged involvement in the cause, but also subtly addressed men’s propensity to mask their emotions with humour.

In a similar vain, Red Nose Day (US) in their 2021 campaign explored how humour can bring people together to promote their cause – ending the cycle of child poverty. Their “Funny is Power” messaging offered them an opportunity to ‘play’ in their awareness and fundraising efforts while adding sensitivity and seriousness to the issue.

The Minnesota Zoo used a similar take on wordplay for their Valentine’s Day fundraising campaign, “You’re Quite Ribbeting”. Their communications were riddled with frog-related puns and encouraged people to send their Valentine a virtual “kiss” from a Minnesota Zoo frog. And they too were able to strike a balance between being light-hearted and addressing a serious issue around saving animals.

It’s all about engagement

Utilising humour has the potential to be particularly helpful in our current donor landscape, as trends are pointing towards givers being more interested in events and one-off donations than ongoing monthly commitments.

“Australian givers are more likely to be opportunity givers (60%) than committed givers (40%), giving when they hear about a need or an issue or when they are approached for a donation or support rather than committing to regular donations throughout the year.” (McCrindle 2021)

This means that engagement is all the more crucial, and there is a limited window for charities to truly hook a donor in with their communications.

Approximately 81 per cent of givers have said they are now more open to participating in online fundraising initiatives. But charities need to work hard to engage audiences in this online space and stand out from the plethora of competing voices.

All of this comes with a warning

Despite the potential upsides of using humour in fundraising, it’s definitely not the right option for all organisations – at least not all the time.

For example, while you may choose to take a few comedic risks as you invite people to be part of your upcoming Fun Run, it’s best to put aside the one-liners when it comes to writing your annual report or winter fundraising letter.

Follow the lead of organisations like Movember, Red Nose Day, and Minnesota Zoo – look for opportunities to be playful in the way you engage with your supporters, but don’t be light-hearted when it comes to addressing the need and the impact.

Need help defining your brand voice and expressing it with confidence? Get in touch with the Linked Creative team and we’ll be happy to help.

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