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4 Nonprofits Bringing Their Marketing to Life with Humor

Nonprofit Humor

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Published January 27, 2014 Reading Time: 4 minutes

Most nonprofit work is serious stuff. Feeding the hungry, responding to natural disasters, saving the environment– none of this exactly qualifies as natural fodder for comedy. And that’s fine. There are a lot of serious problems in the world and the social sector is committed to tackling them day in and day out.

But the seriousness of most nonprofit work doesn’t change the fact that humor can be a powerful tool for humanizing your organization. By adding some humor into the mix, you can reinforce the fact that there are real people, with real personalities, standing behind your brand. Plus, when it’s done right, it’s fun and entertaining.

As with anything else though, if you’ve never tried it before, it’s probably a good idea to start by looking at organizations that are already doing it successfully. With that in mind, here are 4 examples of organizations that are showcasing their personalities by weaving humor into their nonprofit marketing.

1. Team Rubicon’s Box of Awesomeness

Team Rubicon’s Box of Awesomeness

Ever seen a box of pure awesomeness? Neither had we until we came across this highly creative nonprofit marketing example of asking for year-end donations from Team Rubicon. Different “sizes” of these non-existent boxes were offered on Amazon.com, with each size corresponding to a different donation level. The copy advertising the boxes (including lines like “It’s a box. And it’s filled with 100% upcycled/organic/free range awesomeness.”) spawned a variety of funny product reviews from Team Rubicon fans, some of which were funnier than the campaign copy itself.

5 Star Online Review

When Amazon decided that the box of awesomeness didn’t fit their seller guidelines and yanked the page, Team Rubicon kept the campaign alive with a response letter to Amazon, which was itself…pretty awesome.

2. The Heart and Stroke Foundation & the Undeading

We’ve mentioned before that the Heart and Stroke Foundation is tapping into the pop culture fixation on zombies to spread its message. Well, this nonprofit marketing video is a part of that broader zombie-themed campaign. Honestly, you won’t even have an inkling that the video has anything to do with nonprofits until about the minute and a half mark. While some might consider the concept of zombies more creepy than comical, the whole package of video, message, and tagline ends up being pretty funny (or at least highly creative). Oh yeah and it got over a million views, so it worked!

3. Movember with “It Gets Fuller”

Have you noticed the proliferation of mustachioed men that appears every November? This is the product of Movember, the nonprofit working to change the face of men’s health one mustache at a time. What started out as a few friends trying to resurrect the only trend from the 1970’s that had yet to come back in style (the mustache), has since evolved into a global movement raising hundreds of millions of dollars for prostate cancer research.

At some point during this journey, celebrities started getting involved; this lighthearted spinoff of the “It Gets Better” videos definitely has some serious star power. Nick Offerman, of Parks and Recreation, narrates the video and there are cameos from various members of the cast of the Office. If you ever find yourself trying to grow out a full-blown stache, but you’ve got something that more closely resembles dirt on your upper lip, just remember– it does get fuller.

4. ONE.org’s Resolution Roulette

Everyone knows that the Internet loves cats. Actually, the Internet loves all sorts of memes. Well, ONE.org recently channeled this instinctual love of funny images to its advantage. Before the New Year, ONE created a mircrosite (resolutionroulette.org that combined funny memes with unrealistic New Year resolutions, like the one below.

ONE.org's Resolution Roulette

When you visit the site, you can play the resolution game by loading up different memes and sharing them on Twitter. Then, after you’ve gotten your fix of random Internet imagery, you can make a resolution that’s a lot easier to keep. Below the game ONE invites you to add your voice to the global fight against poverty by entering your contact info and joining the organization. Knew there had to be more to it than LOLcats…

Online Form Example

At the end of the day, nonprofit organizations are as diverse as the people that make them up. And it might not make sense for your organization to use humor in the same way that these nonprofit marketing examples have here. BUT, there is almost always some way to lighten the mood. Whether it’s through one-off social media posts, or it’s deeply woven into one of your fundraising campaigns, a bit of levity can go a long way towards humanizing your brand– making your organization more approachable and delighting supporters at the same time.

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Photo Credit: Chris Plymouth, Team Rubicon, ONE.org

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