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How Can Charities Use Guerrilla Advertising?

Guerrilla Marketing Tactics For Charities

Guerilla advertising offers a creative and inventive way of getting a message across. Typically, guerilla advertising campaigns will begin with a modest budget. But they work by presenting an idea in a unique way that gets people talking. That conversation quickly translates into the sharing of content, which dramatically expands the reach of a campaign without the need for additional investment.

Guerilla advertising is a tactic that works incredibly well for charities and not for profit organisations, where budgets are tight, and the aim is to get people interested in a worthwhile cause. Here are three ways that charities can use guerilla advertising to make a real difference.

Make people stop and think

Some of the most successful guerilla advertising campaigns are those that have stopped us in our tracks. And charities can use this tactic incredibly well.

Juxtaposition can be used to remind people of the key issues that a charity is working on, such as hunger, clean water or climate change. For example, a charity might choose to put up posters with shocking facts about world hunger outside a supermarket or post information about the effects of dirty water and poor sanitation in a public bathroom.

Animal rights charity, PETA, used a controversial stunt where they promoted drinking dog’s milk to get people to actively think about their cow’s milk consumption.

Could You Stomach This? By PETA UK

Tip: Think about ways to cut through the noise and make the public stop and think about your cause.

Use a building as a blank canvas

Guerilla projection advertising is well known for being highly effective, particularly if the projection itself has been well thought out and is likely to be spotted by a considerable number of people.

By projecting an image or message onto a well-known building, charities can immediately transform that building into their own digital billboard. Do this in such a way that it makes people stop, snap a photo and share it on social media, and a guerilla marketing campaign is born. This is a brilliantly inventive way of getting people talking, which can lead to a snowball effect as users start sharing the projection on social platforms.

For example, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals lit up the Houses of Parliament with Florence Nightingale’s image to celebrate her bicentenary.

Tip: Project your cause’s key message onto a well-known building to get people looking and sharing.

Set a challenge and make it shareable

Over the years, we’ve seen a handful of great challenges taking over on social media, and these are often created by charities.

Whether you dare users to take the plunge with something like the ice bucket challenge, or you persuade them to get their trainers on and work up a sweat for healthcare heroes, you can quickly create a viral challenge that gets people talking about your charity.

Make sure the chosen challenge is easily shareable, and encourage participants to nominate their friends as soon as they complete it. Before long, it’ll be creating a real buzz, and vital funds will start pouring in.

Macmillan Cancer Support set up the Brave The Shave challenge, where people shave their hair to raise money.

Tip: Think about a challenge that relates to your charity’s core purpose - but make it a real challenge. Braver, bolder challenges get more reach.

Create a campaign people can interact with

It’s a fact universally known that when we interact and engage with something, we’re more likely to remember it. And charities that create experiential guerrilla campaigns are more likely to be remembered, driving brand recall.

When designing an interactive campaign, make sure it’s visible, striking and has an element of curiosity to hook people in.

A good example is Cancer Research UK’s The Breath Test campaign, which highlighted the link between smoking and diminished lung capacity by asking passersby to blow onto a digital poster to reveal a message. The longer people blew, the more the ad was revealed.

Tip: Create an interactive campaign that draws people in with curiosity, engagement and novelty.


Hard-hitting guerilla advertising campaigns don’t require a huge budget, but they do demand a clever spark of creativity. Think about how you could create an original guerilla advertising campaign that surprises those who come across it to get people talking about your charity and the work it’s doing. To find out more about guerilla advertising and how it works, take a look at the go-to guerilla advertising guide by Don’t Panic London.

About the author

Sean Begg Flint is the founder of Position Digital, a digital marketing agency for ambitious startups and growing brands across different industries. He is passionate about helping businesses establish and increase their online presence through purpose-driven content marketing and using outreach for good.

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Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts about NPO's and good causes.

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