Top 10 charity tweets of 2013


2013 eh. What a year. No really, what a year. As we can’t remember what actually happened this year (I’m sure someone else can fill you in) we thought we’d share a review of the year, as told by charity tweets. Well, it’s not so much a review of the year, more a list of great charity tweets, as suggested by the good folk of Twitter. In no particular order. Based on no particular criteria. But we liked them, so hey ho, we hope you do too.

Enjoy, retweet and fave, and feel free to share your own great tweets in the comments.

1. Cancer Research UK’s Dryathlon

Everyone knows about Dryathlon now, don’t they? Back in January this year, it was a small pilot run by Cancer Research UK to get young men to give up booze for a month. The whole campaign was brilliantly executed on social media, with a perfectly pitched tone of voice and attitude, which culminated in a celebratory tweet at the end of the month long campaign.

176 retweets and 22 faves are the sort of numbers a social media manager dreams of. But that’s not surprising as it contains great data, great visual content and a call to action to retweet (which any good social media person will tell you usually leads to more retweets). Dryathlon, we raise a (non-alcoholic) glass to you. And if you want to know how they powered the campaign (which eventually topped £4 million) on JustGiving, read their guest post on knowing your APIs from your BMI.

2. RNLI and #GraceDarling

On 7th September 2013, the RNLI Twitter account was taken over by 1838 lifeboat heroine Grace Darling, who re-told the story of her famous rescue in ‘real time’ throughout the day from 4am. Here’s just one of their great tweets:

This was a really compelling way of telling the story of the charity’s history and getting supporters to connect with the cause, through the voice of a real (if historical) person. You can read the whole of Grace’s story on their Storify summary.

3. UNICEF’s Eurovision tweet

Whilst watching Eurovision this year (yes, I admit it), I was mostly enjoying the Twitter commentary on the various hashtags. In amongst the lols and incredulity I spotted a cheeky tweet from UNICEF about Bonny Tyler, who you’ll have forgotten was this year’s UK attempt at getting null points.

It can be a dangerous game to jump on a trending hashtag and promote your content (see numerous social media fails for how not to do this), but I liked this as it was a) relevant to the topic b) informal, and consistent with the general tone of eurovision tweets and c) got the charity name out there. A good template for hashtag hijacking, I’d say.

4. Asthma UK and Ryan Gosling’s inhaler

Speaking of jumping on trends, one of the most popular (and random) memes of the year was Ryan Gosling won’t eat his cereal. Asthma UK quickly reacted to the trend and posted their own Vine:

I love this because it’s relevant to the trend, funny and was done quickly whilst the trend was still trending (there’s no point in tapping into a meme when it’s old news). Oh, and it’s totally relevant to their cause. Brilliant work guys, probably my fave tweet of the year full stop.

5. Macmillan Cancer Support’s Harlem shake

Memes eh. Gotta love ’em. Remember the one where nothing much happened aside from a random person dry humping the air whilst wearing some sort of headgear? And then suddenly everyone jumps around? Yeah, that. 2013 was the year of the Harlem shake.

This particular meme went charity viral, spawning a fundraising competition between Macmillan Cancer Support, RNLI and Mencap to see which was the best. You can relive those glorious days on this particularly barmy Storify summary of the whole shebang. Working in social media doesn’t always feel like work, does it 😉

6. Diabetes UK thanks supporters with Vine

On the subject of Vines, 2013  was the year where we got yet another social network to play with. The six second constraint can be, not unlike Twitter’s 140 character limit, paradoxically unconstraining and allow clever charities to do things differently.

We all know that donors love being thanked, and we don’t do it enough. So this is a great use of a new tool, being impactful as the person being thanked feels great, and will no doubt share it with their network, sharing the positive Diabetes UK brand love with even more people.

7. Refugee Action thanks big givers with Vine

In a similar vein to Diabetes UK, Refugee Action took to Vine to thank their donors supporting the Big Give Challenge. These are effectively major donors because of the donation matching, so deserve an extra dose of love. What I really like about this is the way the video doesn’t just say thanks, but talks about the difference the donations make in a very simple way.

8. Breast Cancer Care’s #dearbody campaign

Trying to sum up a campaign in 140 characters is tough. Doing it in a way that’s interesting and engaging is harder still. Kudos to Breast Cancer Care for their brilliantly pitched tweet about #dearbody campaign, being both intriguing, authentic and with a clear call to action.

GirlGuiding also took to twitter this year to spread the word about their Girls Attitudes Survey, encouraging people to share their experiences on the #girlsattitudes hashtag. And the British Lung Foundation encouraged people to tweet about supporting  a ban on smoking in cars by tweeting the #smokingincars. These are all great examples of encouraging your supporters to tweet on your behalf and spread your message through their networks.

9. Greenpeace’s #Iceride summary

On 15th September Greenpeace held a global demonstration in over 70 locations and 27 countries to protect the Arctic. Here’s a tweet.

Storytelling around an event doesn’t get much better than this. Great pics, great event, great content. (nominated by Paul)

10. Amnesty’s London marathon pitch

Not unlike the Greenpeace example, Amnesty shared a great image of a London marathon runner the day after this year’s marathon.

I liked this as it was inspiring and timely: the images captures the excitement and achievement of running for Amnesty, and it was shared the day after the race, when people will have watched the race and be most warm to wanting to enter again.

(bonus tweet) By Anonymous

Strictly speaking this isn’t a tweet from a charity, but it’s a good example of how you can find support for your campaign in the strangest places.

The infamous hacker group Anonymous, when not hacking and generally causing all sorts of online mischief, were spotted tweeted about Mozilla’s fundraising campaign. It’s not your average anonymous donor, but it sure reached a lot of people.

(bonus tweet +1) Good old Stephen Fry

Well you can’t really have a list of top tweets and *not* have a Fry-ism in there.

Basing your social media strategy around trying to get Stephen Fry to tweet about you probably isn’t a good idea, but if you do know someone who knows someone who knows someone who was once stuck in a lift with Mr Fry, then there are few people who can reach a massive audience with one tweet.

Feeling inspired?

We recently worked on a report alongside the likes of Facebook and YouTube, that shared best practice into generating great content on social media. So if you want to make our list next year, read How to create great social media content on a budget.


Share this Post

Group 132

Get inspiration in your inbox!

Don’t miss out on digital fundraising tips, tools and trends.

To find out more about how JustGiving uses your data, please visit our Privacy Policy.

Related Posts

Tagged in:

Jonathan is the social and labs product manager at JustGiving, specialising in social media integration, digital strategy and online fundraising. He's fascinated by how the social web has revolutionised the way people interact with each other and how charities can use the internet to create enormous value for them and their supporters.