The Helping Hand Campaign
Fundraising is all about hope. It brings dreams of a better world and a sense of unity, providing the resources to enable major changes around the world. Unfortunately, it is not an easy task to perform. Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS), and an energetic group of young volunteers came up with creative ideas to raise funds using social media and youth engagement techniques.
The “Helping Hand Campaign” has been held in Japan since 1983 – an annual nationwide fundraising initiative as a partnership between JRCS and Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK). The campaign starts every year on the 1st till the 25th of December. The programme aims to mobilise resources for communities suffering from armed conflict, disaster, and disease. In December 2015, JRCS’s youth volunteers decided to expand this strategy to a different audience using creative social media and engagement techniques.
My generation is more familiar with the technology such like Social Media. So such activities dealing with the Social Media will be more effective and efficient if the planning team has young people engaged into it. Also, more young people in general will get interested in the campaign and the National Society itself, if we do social media advertising. It was also one of the reasons why we Youth were excited and highly motivated in contributing to the NSs Fundraising initiative.Ms. Yumino Tanaka (23)
Though JRCS actively promotes youth participation, this project encouraged a deeper engagement between staff members and young volunteers that brought about fresh and creative projects never tried before
How did they conduct this initiative
Young Volunteers Recruitment
JRCS looked for around 10-15 young volunteers who were interested in fundraising or social media, and were open designing new ideas. 11 youth volunteers (2 men, 9 women; between 18-22 years) from local universities voluntarily participated.
The project strategy
The campaign considered three main focus areas to both raise awareness and engagement momentum for young people:
1) Raise-awareness events
During the campaign, all existing events supported the campaigns key messages. An example of an event launched during this period was the “Global Festa”, featuring the global activities of various NGOs, NPOs, and private sector organizations. JRCS Youth participated heavily in the event promoting the work of Red Cross Red Crescent globally, and utilizing Facebook as a communications tool.
2) Social Media Promotion
The campaign utilized the following social media avenues:
JRCS Youth used Facebook to socialize the event and promote dialogue. They posted articles, introduced the youth team behind the scenes, advertised the campaign and related events, and promoted donations. The team also used the Facebook community to spread ideas on initiatives that needed most support.
A Hashtag campaign, called #heartcampaign (#ハートキャンペーン in Japanese) was also launched via Instagram, where photographs of “heart-shaped images and messages” were posted on the JRCS official page. These eye-catching photos helped increase participation amongst a young audience. This was the first time JRCS had utilised Instagram and this was only possible with valuable youth contribution in opening new windows to utilize social media to raise awareness
3.-Yahoo! Japan collaboration
The team collaborated with Yahoo! Japan by co-developing the Yahoo! Internet Fundraising website. Since Yahoo! Japan is the main the internet search engine in the country, the platform resulted in a very convenient partnership that supported the campaign.
We were so glad to see many people stopping by our section to listen to our talk! Fundraising is not only about raising money, but also bringing awareness and seeding the value of mutual understanding and a caring culture among the general.Ms. Yumino Tanaka
Face to face fundraise
As the campaign started, young volunteers stood in the station and in major malls across all prefectures calling for donation, promoting the campaign and advertising its purpose. Volunteers took photos of these fundraise brigades all over Japan that later were shared through the JRCS official site.
When the earthquake struck Japan, we were supported by so many people across the globe. This is a way for us to share our thankfulness to the heartfelt support that we have been receiving. I wanted as many Japanese people passing by to reflect on this thankfulness and donate for our campaign as well as to take a moment to think about the situation outside our countryYouth volunteer,
To sum up…
It is very important to combine youth’ own interest and talent with attractive projects that enable them to potentiate their passions in order to launch innovative projects. This type of campaigns also encourage young talent to join the humanitarian journey as they see how their peers are accomplishing projects with regional (or even national) impact. Yet, this success factor cannot stand alone, unless there is an enabling environment to ensure a space for the Youth to be creative and active.