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.

Using social media to report cases of gender based violence in rural Malawi

I recently met with Patricia Mtungila, who is the founder of Purple Innovation, an NGO supporting women and girls in Malawi. Their main objective is to advance women’s empowerment and reduce violence against women and girls through training and access to digital and traditional information on interventions on women and girls in Malawi.

One of their latest projects is to train girls in citizen journalism and how they can tell their stories, especially stories about gender-based violence (GBV) using their phones. I was interested to find out more about why social media is considered an effective way to report GBV. One of the main reasons is due to the ease and speed of publishing information in rural areas. In the training sessions, participants are given advice on how to take photos to document any acts of violence. But also, how to take these images to protect the identity of the person who has been abused.

These photos are then sent to Purple Innovation via either WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger so that they can pass the evidence on to a Gender Technical Working Group at the District Council level. The working group includes various stakeholders such as police, the victim support unit and gender officers who are working to combat gender-based violence. Due to the relationship that Purple Innovation has built with the working group, cases are taken very seriously and several cases that have been followed up by the police have gone to court resulting in convictions.

A recent example of someone who contacted Patricia and her team was a lady who was scolded with hot water by her husband. The child protection worker in that area took a photograph of the burn as evidence and sent the image with an attached voice note to Purple Innovation. Although the victim had reported the abuse to both the local police and the hospital, nothing had been done to arrest the perpetrator. Whereas now this evidence has been escalated to the relevant department within the council to investigate.

Protection against cyber bullying

Patricia does not just train girls how to report crimes of abuse using social media, she also offers advice on protection against cyber bullying. This involves warnings about posting images online that can be open to abuse and how to conduct yourself online. It is good that these trainings are available, but I wonder when the Government of Malawi, will (if ever) mainstream social media awareness and protection in schools.

Cyber bullying cards produced by Norfolk Constabulary and Broadland District Council – UK

I remember my children’s transition to high school a few years ago and social media protection / cyber bullying was high on the agenda.  Advice was given on privacy and safety i.e. posting personal information such as their own names and dates of birth or where they live, but also the kinds of information that might make them vulnerable to predators. Children are also warned about the potential risk to their own reputation and how posts can be screen shot or recorded and potentially shared for their whole life. How long will it be before this level of teaching is available to all children in Malawi via the school system? Why do we have to rely on NGOs like Purple Innovation to provide this education?

Cyber bullying cards produced by Norfolk Constabulary and Broadland District Council – UK


Database of Gender Based Violence

One last initiative by Purple Innovation is that they have developed an open access dashboard on their website of gender-based violence data which has been verified by the district council. The dashboard is accessible for researchers or reporters so they can write evidence based stories based on that data has been collected. It is often incredibly hard to find digitised data such as this in some countries, so this is an excellent tool that will help combat GBV in Malawi in the future!

Springster – a mobile first platform to connect vulnerable girls

Springster – a mobile-first platform to connect vulnerable girls to each other and to relevant information and advice.

The world is getting more connected every day. In 2017 there were nearly 5 billion unique mobile users – 66% of the population. Globally there is a much more burgeoning connectivity amongst females, which means that there are more and more vulnerable girls online. In the next 5 years it is predicted that two out of every three new mobile owners is going to be female.

I was delighted to interview Esther Press, who is the Global Content Manager for Springster, a unique mobile-first behaviour change platform, created by Girl Effect, which aims to build vulnerable girls’ confidence, knowledge and skills. One of Facebook Free Basics’ top five most visited sites, Springster is available in 69 countries across the world and translated into 17 languages. Each time Facebook announces that it will be launching in a new country, Springster ensures content is available for that market. Springster is currently launching in Cameroon, Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire.

The project has been designed after extensive research in Asia and Africa with over 350 girls, 100 boys and a number of parents, experts and influencers. Insights from these research workshops enable content to be created that helps girls face their everyday challenges.

Springster has been optimised specifically for low-bandwidth environments so that it is available on feature phones as well as smartphones. The content is inspired by teen media platforms like Buzzfeed and the Khan Academy. Springster currently has around 1.3 million average monthly users and received 30 million unique visitors since its launch in 2015.

Springster has four key ‘deeper dive’ markets – South Africa, Nigeria, Philippines and Indonesia. In each of these markets there are dedicated content teams made up of girl writers, researchers, creatives, planners and account managers.
Esther commented “We have a unique evidence-based approach to content creation. In each of the key markets we carry out extensive research into the cultural and social elements which affect the kind of content that girls want to be delivered. It’s super localised and personalised. The rest of the markets benefit from a global content set and Girl Effect work with global freelancers, where we have a roster of incredible writers who are based across the world. We don’t just work with writers in the UK. In the future we aim to localise and tailor content in more countries.”

Moderation and Safeguarding

In each of the key markets, there are dedicated moderators called “Big Sisters”. Their persona is a trusted, sassy, older sister. All of the Big Sisters are trained in child safeguarding and gender issues and work on the Springster content management system to answer all the comments. In Nigeria they can receive over 3000 comments per month. There’s also a stringent flagging process in place for profanities and risky comments, whereas in the global markets comments are not switched on.
People can only comment on the site once they have registered. When individuals register no personal identifiable details are taken. The big difference from platforms like Facebook is that no personal information is asked for. Individuals are encouraged to set up a username which has no link to their real identity. There is no messaging platform within the site, so no one can contact individuals directly.

Entertainment with a purpose

Springster at the end of the day is a behaviour change product. The site needs to be entertaining to capture girls’ attention, but every single article has a purpose. Girls benefit from the reassurance and advice generated by shared stories and experiences from other girls like them. Content that caters for girls’ needs is often hard to find and topics they want to find out more about e.g. periods, relationships, sex are often not readily available. It is important that articles are culturally on trend, looking at topics of the day such as K-Pop and celebrity culture. As Esther commented “We put the girl at the heart of everything we do. We want to celebrate the diverse, inspirational and convention-defying experiences of girls. We look at the attitudes, knowledge and behaviour that we need to change to impact their world.”

Even the use of imagery is extensively tested so that it is relevant. In Indonesia girls responded mostly to quirky drawings and cute illustrations, whilst in South Africa the research showed that girls would find photography more appealing and engaging.
Measuring Impact
Springster has a custom-built dashboard to measure the impact of its activities. Using a range of measurements such as surveys, comment analysis, site analytics and interviews with girls who have used the platform they are aiming to measure changes across all of the impact areas that they have identified. This data also informs what kinds of stories Springster need to focus on in the future.

Future Plans

In the future Springster intend to extend their reach in the social media ecosphere. They are currently researching options to introduce YouTube and Instagram in their key markets, but are also considering BBM, WhatsApp and Dark Social.
Crucially, the team are working on plans to better utilise the incredibly rich data related to reach, engagement and participation on Springster, by launching a new measurement dashboard in 2018. This dashboard will not only measure how girls use the platform, but to what extent it has helped shift girls’ knowledge, attitude and behaviour in the offline world too. This innovative approach has seen the brand featured as a best practice case study by DIAL, the Digital Impact Alliance at the United Nations Foundation, as part of their series on the ‘Principles for Digital Development’.

To find out more about Springster click here: http://www.girleffect.org/what-we-do/springster/

Christmas Charity Videos

With the countdown to the festive season well under way I thought I would share a few Christmas campaign videos I have seen recently. It’s ludicrous how much money is spent at Christmas time and I think this has been epitomised by the latest Disneyfied, Lily Allen singing John Lewis Advert that cost £7 million. Sure, it’s a beautifully made animation, but spending £7 million to encourage us to buy more STUFF (see the Canadian Red Cross video below) when people in the Philippines are desperate for aid.

Please send me any more examples of Christmas Charity Videos that you think are worth adding. Ho ho ho.

UNICEF Santa

Save the Children UK>

Rudolph vs Donkey

Save the Children – Christmas Sessions

Canadian Red Cross – The Spirit of the Holidays

H&M Sweden Christmas Charity Campaign

Save the Children – Jack Topping

WaterAid> – The Les Mis Ensemble

Nice and Serious – Kids Reinvent Santa’s Sleigh
http://youtu.be/a3ZlcWgJyzw

Nice and Serious – 12 Days of Sustainable Xmas Song
http://youtu.be/6ExfHI5UIxs

Funny International Development Videos

Today I read a journal article Development Made Sexy: how it happened and what it means written by Cameron and Haanstra (2008). The article argues that the way in which NGOs represent the global South and development are hugely important in the construction of social power relations between people in the global North and the global South.

The ‘pornography of poverty’ approach has dominated fundraising communications for decades, and to some extent still does. I have interviewed several large NGOs in the UK and many confess to wanting to change their narratives, but are nervous due to clear management data that proves ‘poverty porn’ still works when it comes to donations. The article critiques a seemingly new form of ‘sexy development communication’ with some obvious negative impacts such as objectification, exploitation and oversimplification.

What are the downfalls of both these strategies in raising public awareness of development issues in the North? The paper doesn’t really offer a solution, but suggests in it’s conclusion that an alternative approach could be humour, which has been recently used in successful campaigns such as Greenpeace’s Mr Splashy Pants.

I’ve recently written a lot about video and today took part in the shortlisting panel for a new video award from Africa for Norway. Inspired by the article and shortlisting process I decided to share (in no particular order) some of my favourite ‘funny development videos’ .

Development Boy

Ricky Gervais – Comic Relief

TIMS – A Revolutionary One-to-One Campaign

Drive Aid

Africa for Norway – Radi-Aid

Jessie J -Uganda LipDub

WaterAid – Remote Control Poo

UNICEF – Norway

James Corden and Rankin

Rainforest Alliance – Follow the Frog

Let’s Save Africa! – Gone Wrong

No Woman, No Drive

Concern – Rudolph vs Donkey

Water Aid – This World Toilet Day Sing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di_ugvNXjgs&feature=share&list=UU3JVuo2A_Am7XW5tkFZRi5A&index=2

I want a Goat
http://youtu.be/QmoVuqRS2NI