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.

Oxfam explain growing inequality in a social media mash-up

Oxfam have recently released a video highlighting the ever growing inequality in the world. The video tells the story of inequality through an online conversation between two friends using Facebook Messenger, status updates and and Skype video chat. The conversation starts off talking about one of their Dad’s being like a grumpy cat, and then there is a news announcement that according to Oxfam “the combined wealth of the world’s 85 richest people is equal to the 3.5 billion poorest.” One of the friends jokes about the Dad being one of the 85 richest. It then turns quite upbeat with one of the friends receiving a scholarship to attend a top school. The music turns sad and one of the girls explains that their father is having to move his factory abroad due to tax reasons. Things go from worse to worse and the father is killed in a mining accident.

The video then jumps to a quick succession of authentic news items from Al Jazeera, France 24, PTV Philippines etc announcing that inequality has reached an all time high and the richest 1% in the world will own more than the rest of 99% of the population by 2016.

To date the video has been watched by just over 6,000 people and has 31 likes. It’s different from most of the other charity videos I’ve watched in recent years, but I’m not sure how effective it is. A ‘like’ for every 200 views is fairly impressive, but obviously people aren’t sharing it that much in their networks or it would have had more views. I wonder why they chose to use this social media / news reporting mash-up style. Maybe they are educating a future group of latent activists? Or perhaps they just want more teenagers to sign their petition to take action against inequality?

A different approach to fundraising videos by Oxfam

Oxfam have recently published two very different styles of video about life inside South Sudan camps. The first film tells a story of a mother in one of the camps by using a GoPro camera. It’s an interesting attempt at participatory video. On one hand it has produced some very realistic images literally from the refugee’s viewpoint. But I still wonder how much was directed and edited.

The other video concept I find more intriguing. It is the story of Elizabeth who again is based in one of the camps. Elizabeth is not on Facebook, but someone has posted the kind of things she might post if she was. It’s a nice idea but somehow it doesn’t work for me. What I do like though is that Oxfam are experimenting with different styles of storytelling. Neither of these videos will have cost much to produce and I hope they continue tell stories with innovative approaches.

Using Twitter for Reputation Management and Customer Service: A case study of Oxfam

Twitter, if managed properly, is an excellent tool for customer service and reputation management. Oxfam’s use of Twitter in January is a perfect example. I was looking at their stream earlier today to find information about a recent video when I noticed a number of tweets about Oxfam hosting an event with somebody who is considered a racist. Oxfam had replied to everyone. This intrigued me, so I favourited all of the tweets and when I got back to my office decided to write this blog. Unfortunately my manic favouriting had obviously alerted Oxfam that these tweets were still in their stream and they deleted them before I could take any screen shots. But fortunately for me I was able to track down one of these tweets via a Google search.


As a result of @isupportisrael and a number of other Tweeple, Oxfam decided to cancel the event and were able to minimise any further negative discussions. A perfect example of reputation management.

In January, Oxfam tweeted 159 times (even more before they deleted the tweets I mentioned earlier). Of these 159 tweets, 40 were retweets and 18 included pictures. Their management of Twitter is excellent with a variety of tweets about research, survey results, retail discounts, event promotions, sponsorship appeals, videos, infographics, photos etc. They are really good at building a community by answering direct tweets and also scanning the Twitterverse and communicating with people who have helped Oxfam with its cause through activities such as fundraising or donating clothes.

Their most popular Tweet in January with 266 retweets is interesting as they had posted the same information, but with a different angle twice earlier that day. This proves that it is very worthwhile repurposing the same content at different times of the day. On the last and most popular tweet, they asked people to retweet. Is it really that simple? Read some of Dan Zarella’s research if you want to find out more about the science of retweets.




In just one months worth of tweets there’s load of other interesting stuff to analyse such as Oxfam’s use of celebrities lilke Stephen Fry, Lauren Lavern, Zoe Ball and more importantly the accepted resignation of Scarlett Johannson as a global ambassador. Maybe another day….