Most viewed YouTube videos by 10 UK charities supporting international development

I’ve always been interested in the power of video as a form of storytelling, especially when supporting international development issues. So I decided to look at 10 UK charities to see what their most viewed video is. It’s hard to tell whether the videos shared organically or whether there was a substantial amount of advertising, so I have included the number of likes and comments below each video and also a very brief description of the content. Here they are in alphabetical order by charity – rather than listed by popularity.

ActionAid UK – a life transformed by ActionAid’s sponsorship programme | Child Sponsorship

Action Aid – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers – 2.47k – Video Published – 21/11/2012 – Views – 117,000 – Likes – 68 – Comments 2

Narrated by Purna Kala Shah, who has been a midwife in Nepal for 26 years. Purna came from a poor background and her family could not afford education. She was sponsored by ActionAid supporters from the age of 12 which has enabled her to follow her career dreams.

CARE International UK – Lendwithcare animated film

CARE International UK – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 1.4kVideo Published11/4/2016 Views57,000Likes8Comments 0

This animation is narrated by Joanna Lumley, a well-known UK actress. The animation starts with a depiction of a young girl, Hope, with a story about her loving to braid hair, but her family are poor and can’t afford education (seems familiar, see film above). We then jet across the world to Emma who gets taken to the hairdressers with her mum as a treat each month. However, one day in the salon she reads about the lendwithcare scheme and as a result Emma’s mum Barbara lends the money to Hope who sets up her salon. None of the countries are mentioned but the supposed “developing countries” are both rural compared to the urban western donor.

Christian Aid – Refugee Appeal: Helping the stranger

Christian Aid – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 5.09kVideo Published10/9/2015 Views600,000Likes18Comments 1

A short fundraising video for refugees in Northern Iraq. Mainly images of children eating and drinking with text overlaid quoting from the Bible – Matthew 25:35

Comic Relief – Mr Bean’s Wedding

Comic Relief – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 804kVideo Published16/3/2009 Views24,400,000Likes79Comments 334

I can’t stand Mr Bean so refused to watch this 🙂 But obviously a lot of people disagree with me.

Doctors Without Borders – How The Body Reacts To Tuberculosis

Doctors Without Borders – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 27.4kVideo Published20/3/2014 Views693,500Likes4,700Comments 2,130

A nicely designed infographic video giving information about tuberculosis.

Oxfam GB – Flashmob: Pregnant women breakdancing in London

Oxfam GB – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 18.9kVideo Published22/9/2008 Views1,800,000Likes4,000Comments 613

I’ve used this video in several lectures. Love it!

Save the Children UK – Most Shocking Second a Day Video

Save the Children UK – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 145kVideo Published5/3/2014 Views74,000,000Likes1,000,000Comments – turned off

I’ve also shown this video in a lot of lectures. I believe it is the most viewed UK charity video to date with 74 million views. I’m sure it has very high production costs and I suspect had a decent amount of advertising spend. However, it’s a great film.

Sightsavers – A message from students in Sierra Leone

Sightsavers – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 1.7kVideo Published25/5/2021 Views74,000Likes15Comments – 1

Narrated by children in Sierra Leone asking people to sign an open letter to demand world leaders to put children with disabilities at the heart of education plans.

Tearfund – What is Poverty?

Tearfund – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 5.5kVideo Published3/6/2015 Views494,500Likes4.4kComments – 261

This is my favourite of all the videos. I’m really surprised I’ve not seen this before. It made me go cold at the end. A brilliant video about some of the causes of poverty. I could write a whole blog post about this. Maybe I will one day 🙂

World Vision UK – Zeinab’s Story | Child Marriage

World Vision UK – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 2.1kVideo Published14/8/2015 Views127,500Likes769Comments – 138

Narrated by Zeinab, a 14 year old child bride. I felt uncomfortable watching this video and personally think it is unethical to focus on a 14 year old in a charity campaign. See my blog post from December last year discussing the use of children in charity campaigns.

Celebrity Advocacy, Social Media and International Development

I have always wondered how much attention celebrity news and news sites like The VIP Roll get. But on the other hand, it isn’t always reflected on celebrity videos. I was preparing a lecture the other day on the use of social media by International NGOs. During my research I watched a lot of videos on Youtube and I noticed how few views many of the celebrity videos had received.

One good example is a group of videos called “What could you buy with 50 pence” made by ActionAid with celebrities including Gabby Logan, Katherine Kelly, Sarah Alexander, Fay Ripley and Mark Watson. Now I’m not big on celebrities and I don’t even know who 2 of these people are, however, what I noticed was how each video had received hardly any views. Mainly the early hundreds, some lower. I wondered to myself – how much does it cost to produce these videos? I don’t know the answer. I presume that the celebrities offer their services free of charge. I’m sure they do. But do they get expenses? If so, how much does it cost to get 5 “celebs” into a studio? How much did the film crew get? How much was editing etc. At the end of the day – was it worth it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqOZoIoEdIs

I then found a video by Robbie Williams on the UNICEF channel. I’ve heard of Robbie Williams 🙂 I was amazed that it had less than 5000 views (at the time of writing). Surely with Robbie’s fan base it would attract more views and shares than this via social media? Obviously not. Again, how much did it cost to shoot? Don’t get me wrong it may be very cheap. But what is the return on investment (ROI)? What is the main objective of the video? Robbie’s film has a clear call to action to donate money to Soccer Aid. The film is also educational. Maybe UNICEF are happy with the results? Again I don’t know the answer.

So after seeing these videos and plenty more I started to wonder – Is celebrity endorsement for International Development a good thing? I was then kindly sent a case study on UNICEF about their campaign #SahelNOW and how it was endorsed by Selena Gomez. Her video has had nearly 50,000 views. She has nearly 14 million followers on Twitter and each Tweet about the campaign was retweeted around 5,000 times. I won’t go into all the detail here but the campaign was a resounding success. If you want to see more stats there’s a great slideshare – #SahelNOW: Sound the Alarm, One Million Children at Risk.

So celebrity endorsement does work, esecially when you have an ‘A’ lister who’s dating Justin Beiber (at the time). There are plenty of other success stories about celebrity endorsement via social media. You just have to look at #Kony2012.

Anyway, today I was talking to my colleague about celebrity endorsement and he kindly guided me to some work by Dan Brockington who researches Celebrity and Development. His blog is well worth perusing. The research isn’t complete yet but there are some early findings, one of which is that celebrities are often the winners of charity advocacy. That’s a discussion for another day….