Web videos for a cause: using films to raise awareness, donations


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A while back, I saw this blog post, written by a Global Voices blogger Juliana Rincón Parra, highlighting storytellers using online videos to raise awareness about hunger in the Philippines. Among other videos, the blogger pointed out one film in particular, called Chicken a la Carte, a touching video that has been viewed thousands of times after spreading virally on the web through social media sites and email.

This got me thinking, and wondering, about how else online videos are being used to raise awareness of issues and spread word about charities and organizations. It is clear that a short film or video, if done well, can be an incredibly effective at turning an issue we’ve heard of into something much more personal and emotional. And as the Chicken a la Carte film shows, sites like YouTube can facilitate a video’s rapid and widespread broadcasting to mindboggling degrees.

Another example from a site that uses web videos to spread the word about its work better than any other organization I’ve ever seen is called charity: water. They do an amazing job of using evocative images and music to explain their cause and call people to action on their goal of bringing clean drinking water to people in poor countries. This background video has been viewed on YouTube more than 76,000 times, and the one below uses a rock song by Beck to raise awareness with a music video.

We wrote about another example in May about a music/audio project using sounds by survivors of the Sichuan - Wenchuan earthquake to raise awareness, and some money, for Chinese victims still in need. In this case, the video nicely describes a unique project.

Still, as I’ve wondered before, can these online projects – even if they are spread widely on the Internet – actually bring about change? How often do people who view something online and do more than just pass it along to their family and friends? Please share your thoughts, or other examples of interesting videos, in the comments below.


Join the Conversation

Pierre G.
July 07, 2009


nice round up, thx. Here at wfp.org, we recently launched a serie of videos that show what we do in a simple, short, informal manner.

Check some of them here;

Do they bring change? Depends what you mean by change. Do they help reach new audiences who otherwise would tune out more traditional communications? Yes. that's a start.

James I Davison
July 07, 2009

Thanks for the info, Pierre. I agree that reaching new people (through means such as Twitter, Facebook, emails, or any other means of sharing content) is an important aspect. I just wonder how often someone sitting at a computer will do more than just close their internet browser or click to the next YouTube video.

I suppose, like many things in life, it's a numbers game, and the more people you reach, the bigger the chances someone will take action.

Mary Kay
July 07, 2009

I think it's like a lot of other things on the web.

If we can give people a way to respond it's more effective. If we show the video and have a way to donate instantly or include a link where they can donate instantly then people are more likely to do it.