The best of non-profit advertising and marketing for social causes

Getting attention for a bargain

Getting attention for a bargain

Nancy Schwartz from Getting Attention asked me to submit a post about non-profit marketing for the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants. This carnival is a collection of the best advice and resources that consultants and other support organizations are offering to nonprofits through their blogs each week. Read more about the carnival here.
Being a graphic and webdesigner since 1980 I did a lot of different things. I worked at advertising agencies, design studios, copyshops, publishers, printshops and even at the graphic department of a hospital. But in my finest moments I was working for volunteer organisations, non-profits and activist groups. Working for these groups was always equal: a lot of content but almost no money to create and publish.
That’s what this post is about. Great goals to fight for but a very limited budget. Below some stunning examples from 2006 made with almost no money but a lot of creativity.

Creativity with newspapers


Fundraising at the Belgium retailer C&A for Unicef. Children clothes made from newspapers width this text on the label:
“Is this the only thing homeless Pakistan children will have this winter? Help them with a gift at the pay-desk.”

Creativity with bricks


Guerilla campaign for Don Bosco Anbu Illam, a non-profit organisation for homeless children in India.
No paper in the books but a brick as a metaphore for housing.  These ‘books’ were seen in bookshops amomg Chennai, India.
Agency: RMG David Chennai

Creativity with paint

Donnons un toit à ceux qui n’en ont pas.
Let us give a roof to those which do not have any.

Streetart from Samu Social de Paris, a non-profit organisation for homeless people in Paris.

Agency: TBWA Paris

Creativity with tar


I decided some time ago not to publish anti-smoking ads here until I’m going to stop by myself.
This could be the time to stop. Otherwise they could use my lungs to make highways.
No credits (anyone?)

Creativity with copy


I don’t know how serious these ads are but there is no better way to visualize these things.
These ads are made for the Homeless Awareness Week (may 2005), organised by the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless.
Their mission is “to work toward ending homelessness by educating the Central Ohio community about homelessness and housing issues and through advocating in a unified voice for social and economic justice.”
The text at the bottom is for the times and dates of the bands that played for the event.
Ads made by Little Jacket


Creativity with a stamp



Some ideas are so simple and so powerful.
Clubs use a ink stamp to identify their patrons. Marriott’s nightclub Enigma in India wanted a low-budget campaign that cautioned their patrons against drinking and driving. They replaced the simple logo stamp with a call-a-cab number and a reminder against drinking and driving.
Not only did the cab company receive approximately 30 calls a night, the exercise generated such strong word-of-mouth that it was taken up by the Mumbai Police and has now been adopted by several other clubs in the city.
Credit: Art Director: Sanket Pathare, Copywriter: Sonal Chajerh.

Creativity with a stencil



Chicago is plagued by air pollution. Don’t just lie there. Contact your alderman at 311.
Campaign designed to gain public support in an effort to reduce the pollution released by particular powerplants in Chicago.
Nice detail: font used in this campaign is the Chicago screenfont.
Credits: Jesse Freese – Columbia College Chicago


Creativity with adhesives


What do film-makers, an investment banker, an attorney, a web designer and an opera director/veterinary technician have in common?
They all share a deep compassion and commitment to helping New York City street cats. They feel the frustration that not enough is being done to help these cats who live in our shadows, feed on our garbage, scamper for warmth under our cars, barely surviving on the streets. They know that without sustained efforts from the community, urban street cats often don’t stand a chance and so collectively they created Urban Cat League.

Noah from ALR Design sent this (thanks!). He wrote: I saw this ad on the door of Moo Shoes a vegan shoe store on the Lower East Side (New York) and I immediately thought of the PUSH campaign you wrote about a few months back. I wonder who came up with the idea first. Maybe the same ad company did both.

Creativity with slippers




Click image to enlarge

When you’re homeless, the world looks a little different.
Great variation on a theme of homelessness.
Ads for the Coalition for the Homelessness made by dont sleep.

The Coalition provides vital services to over 3,500 New Yorkers each day. They use this frontline experience to advocate for long-term public solutions to mass homelessness that are more humane and cost-effective than current government programs.
The overarching goal of the Coalition is to move beyond warehousing homeless people in shelters by promoting and offering programs that help them regain their dignity and independence. Their 12 direct service programs are designed to engage homeless people, stabilize them, and transition them to self-sufficiency.

Creativity with ladder


Mudra DDB Communications made this guerilla visualising one of the difficulties which polio patients are suffering.
In case you don’t know when polio affects a person usually one leg becomes shorter than the other one.

Creativity with red paint


Pfff this kind of shockvertising is not my cup of tea. These ads are shown outside the RMIT International University in Vietnam at the parking accomodation. Well, message is clear: This can happen to you. Use your head, wear a helmet.

Agency Golden Advertising

Creativity with stairs


It saw this same idea last year at the stairs to the subway of Antwerp (Belgium) but forgot to make a picture.
‘I fell down some stairs’ is a often used excuse by abused women.

The stenciled message is from, the Family Violence Prevention Fund.

Creativity with nipslip

October Breast Cancer Awareness month.

In the Netherlands the Breast Cancer Awareness month had begun with this nipslip from the famous Dutch actress Halina Reijn before the premiere of a big film from Paul Verhoeven, Zwartboek.
Many newspapers, tv stations and websites got this supposed to be news. After two days Halina Reijn announced is wasn’t a accident but a statement for Pink Ribbon. It was one of the most succesfull statements ever made.
(Pink Ribbon is a magazine started as a fundraising tool for breast cancer awareness.)

Agency LG&F

Creativity with street poles




Guerilla campaign from the French Médecins du Monde. Do you think France is one of the most civilized countries in the World? Last winter many homeless and poor elderly people died because of the cold.
In this guerilla campaign crucifixes are made from street poles with the text: “Every winter, hundreds of homeless die on the sidewalks. React.”
Agency Euro RSCG C&O

Creativity with stencils


Nice guerilla from the Columbia College Ad Agency Class made for the ALAMC, the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago.
The work is part of a campaign for ALAMC to clean up Chicago’s dirtiest coal-fired power plants. The website refers to Fisk and Crawford power plants located in Chicago. These two power plants attribute to over 550 ER visits, 2800 asthma attacks and 41 premature deaths annually in the Chicago area.

More about this at advertising for peanuts.

Creativity with a ink stamp



This ambient campaign is from the Odyssey House Australia. Odyssey House was founded in 1977 and provides residential and non-residential rehabilitation programs for men and women with a drug, alcohol or gambling problem.
For the campaign potential drug users were targeted at outdoor parties and clubs via a double ink admission stamp. It’s not a wellknown problem that the use of e (ecxtacy) can cause depressions. That’s what this stamp tells.
Agency NETX Australia

Founder of Osocio. It all started with collecting election posters in 1973. And that's never stopped. Read more.