Top ten charity campaigns of 2014

About the author

Richard Bailey Hon FCIPR is editor of PR Academy's PR Place Insights. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.

Macmillan Cancer's World's biggest coffee morning
Macmillan Cancer's World's biggest coffee morning

Here’s a personal pick of some this year’s outstanding campaigns and campaigners on behalf of good causes.

While some could be criticised as examples of ‘funraising’ in that they’re more about the participant than the cause, others bring us face to face with mortality. Some stand out for their exceptional longevity, others for the commitment and sacrifice of some remarkable individuals.

Here’s my top ten, in reverse order.

10. Ice Bucket Challenge

Who can forget the videos shared on Facebook as people prepared to be doused by a bucket of water before nominating others for the challenge?

Take another look at Francis Ingham of the PRCA getting wet. The problem is, who can remember the good cause? The cause was an inherited illness called ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) – better known in the UK as motor neurone disease. Anyone donating in the UK would have had to find a suitable motor neurone disease charity.

9. HeForShe

This new approach to feminism and gender equality – aimed at men – gained a publicity boost when Emma Watson spoke out in favour of the United Nations campaign in September.

8. Macmillan Cancer

Cancer is not something most people feel comfortable discussing. So what should a cancer support charity do? Macmillan embraces life, and has been successfully fundraising for many years through the world’s biggest coffee morning. It started back in 1990 so this campaign has been sustained for a quarter of a century.

Wadds blog2014 CIPR President Stephen Waddington is a supporter for family reasons, raising money through his blog and other publications.

7. Movember

Men’s illnesses such as prostate cancer are not as photogenic as certain other causes. So the Movember campaign deserves credit for drawing attention to less fashionable causes, and for sustaining and building a campaign over several years.

6. Alan Henning and William Pooley

Let us recognise two remarkable people who have put themselves in danger to help others.

Of the hostages murdered by Islamic State, none gained so much attention in the UK as Greater Manchester taxi driver Alan Henning. He took risks to help others – and lost his life as a result.

Ebola is a current health concern – and we admire those medical workers devoting themselves to helping victims and working for prevention. Among these British nurse William Pooley stands out for having survived Ebola – and for choosing to return to his work in Sierra Leone

5. #nomakeupselfie

#nomakeupselfieMy favourite ‘funraising’ campaign of 2014. This meme was already spreading on social media when Cancer Research seized the opportunity to benefit, with £8 million raised in six days. It wasn’t planned and it wasn’t strategic, but it was smart and effective – and lots of fun.

4. Band Aid 30

Critics may be carping about the negative representation of Africa, about the lack of African artists among the performers or about the wealth and tax status of the artists. But Bob Geldof has lost none of his anger and energy, and the thirtieth anniversary of Band Aid reminds us of the pioneering role he played in celebrity-led activism.

3. Stephen Sutton

Stephen Sutton may have died aged 19 in May, but he’s since been awarded an MBE. He became an active campaigner for Teenage Cancer Trust and, through his blog and social media and with the help of celebrity supporters, he exceeded every fundraising target. By the time of his death he had raised over £3 million and that sum has since risen.

2. Royal British Legion

How do you keep a campaign going for almost a century? The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War helped this year, as did the extraordinary sea of poppies at the Tower of London. And then there was the support from the much-discussed Sainsburys Christmas advertisment retelling the story of the Christmas Day truce in 1914. Lest we forget.

1. Malala Yousafzai

MalalaMalala is so well-known that it’s worth restating that she’s still only 17 and it was only two years ago that she was shot and left for dead in Pakistan. Now recovering and back in education in the UK, she has become a global spokesperson for female education.

This year she becane the youngest-ever recipient of a Nobel prize and she’s powerful campaigner who has set up the Malala Fund. The kidnapping of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria this year reminds us that her cause is global and current.