Viral Nonprofit Marketing: 4 Types of Examples

nonprofit viral marketing

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 raised $115 million. This is the kind of success every nonprofit wants. If you don’t remember what the challenge was about, here’s a video you might enjoy.

The most important part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, was that it made people aware of the ALS Association, and the disease they were collecting donations for, amyotropic lateral sclerosis.

For any nonprofit that wants the kind of attention that ALS received, the biggest struggle is coming up with a viral nonprofit marketing campaign. Once that’s accomplished, its a matter of utilizing video to promote it.

There’s different messages for videos that an organization could utilize to: kick off a fundraising campaign, thank participants, create awareness of problem, or to inform viewers what your organization is all about. The most important thing about these videos is that they are unique to the nonprofit, are honest, and aren’t forced.


The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is what you would call an interactive campaign. It enables participants to create their own content promoting the campaign, and also the non profit.

Popular Culture

An organization might use popular culture in their campaign to leverage what their audience is already familiar with to draw attention to their message. A great example is when the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock created a video of their patients lip syncing to Katy Perry’s Roar.
Another great example is when the Salvation Army used #TheDress to draw attention to a campaign to #StopAbuseAgainstWomen.


Infographic Campaigns

You’ve probably seen those infographics that present information in a fun way. Those work for nonprofits too. Infographic videos are great for sharing facts about an issue, or about an organization in general. There are many people who simply can’t absorb a message unless it’s laid out visually.
Charity Water does a great job illustrating facts and figures as well as telling a story in this campaign.



What grabs people the most are stories. Viewers will remember what emotionally moves them. And these videos make the situations tangible. Save the children accomplished just that in their viral campaign.

Viral campaign planning isn’t easy, particularly if that’s what you’re aiming for. Your best bet is find something that resonates with your cause and organization. Talk to the people your organization supports to find a story, or an idea. You never know where the next big hit could come from.
Here’s an example of a Thank You video that then kicks off a new campaign. Charity: Water does a great job at inspiring action.

Ignoring high production costs, people will buy into your organization if what you’re sharing is honest, unique, and not forced.

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About Aubrey

Aubrey left her Seattle home to find her Great Perhaps, which has so far led her to Southern New Hampshire University as a double-major in Creative Writing and Communication. She’s passionate about social media and has a love for coffee and waffles.