Lifting African communities out of poverty through clever marketing campaigns

Dessie Tuck

Second in the series of blogs dedicated to philanthropy is our interview with Lauren Palmer, whose chosen charity is Send a Cow. We wanted to find out more about this great charity and asked Lauren why she chose it.

How was her favourite marketing campaign delivered by Send a Cow? And of course, what would be the dream marketing campaign that Lauren would run for the charity?

Q: Lauren, can you tell me more about your chosen charity?

A: Send a Cow is a Bath-based charity and it is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Over the last three decades, the team has been helping African farmers and their families to grow their own food, their confidence and their aspirations. Established in the 1980s, Send a Cow started when a group of West Country farmers literally sent dairy cows from their own herds to help families in Uganda who were struggling after the country’s brutal civil war. They sent just 32 cows on the first flight to Uganda in 1988. Today the charity works in six African countries and has helped over two million people. Send a Cow no longer sends livestock from the UK but sources livestock within Africa. The charity has evolved a lot over the last three decades and now provides a package of training and support in sustainable farming, business skills and gender equality, helping families to grow their own food, earn an income and overcome poverty. Any livestock that is provided is done so alongside comprehensive training in animal husbandry and welfare so that families learn how to take the best care of the animals. Not only that but 80% of their staff are African, showing another way they are helping the communities.

“It’s a lovely charity and they do amazing work.”

Q: What marketing or fundraising do they currently do?

A: They fundraise in many different ways, working with corporate companies, such as Starbucks and Riverford. They also receive donations from individuals and run events with local communities as well. They have run lots of really interesting marketing campaigns, though there are a couple of them that I really like. Quite often they have budget constraints, so they have to think creatively to find a way to make the messages go further without actually having to spend a lot of money. It is quite an interesting approach to marketing and it makes you think outside of the box.

“It is quite an interesting approach to it and it makes you think outside of the box.”

Q: What has been your favourite marketing campaign of theirs?

A: I would say the ‘Mother and Child Appeal’. The campaign focused on Mercy, a young Kenyan mother who they wanted to support in their new project. Not only was it a personal tale of someone they wanted to work with directly but it was a universal message that anyone could connect to: that no mother should have to watch her child go hungry. It was a very emotional story, but they presented it in in a lot of really interesting ways.

I particularly liked the pop-up in Bath, which was a seven-foot statue made of wicker. This was based in the city centre and they asked people to take a ribbon and tie it onto the statue to show their support and ideally give a donation. It was a great way to raise awareness, they even had the Mayor of Bath, the Bath MP and local Olympian Amy Williams come and get involved. The whole campaign raised £1.3 million which was then matched by the UK government to £2.6 million. They also created a series of podcasts and a photo exhibit which pictured people that they had helped as well.

Wicker Woman In Bath

“The whole campaign raised £1.3 million which was then matched by the government.”

The other campaign I really liked was about Burundi. Send a Cow referred to it as "The Forgotten Country" throughout the campaign. Burundi is said to be the hungriest country in the world, but the country receives little media attention and aid. To address this, Send a Cow created a PR and social influencers campaign centred on a video.

Like the ‘mother and child’ initiative, they told the personal story of someone they wanted to support but had this voiced by many different celebrities. They had Michelle Keegan, Bill Bryson and others, adding their weight but still using real words from the people they wanted to support - it’s a nice combination.

Q: If you could run a marketing campaign for Send a Cow, what would it be?

A: I really like their past campaigns and I think they’ve found a recipe for success. I would definitely keep the personal connection, telling the story of someone real that the charity has helped but try to take this one step further.

Rather than focusing on an individual, I would look to tell the story of a whole community that Send a Cow has helped and create a direct connection between their audience in the UK (and beyond) directly to that community. At the heart of the campaign, I would create a microsite dedicated to telling the community’s story. Creating a 360’ view of the community – along the lines of Google Street View – we could transport the audience right to the heart of the community, allowing them to virtually explore the neighbourhood and interact virtually with some of the families that are benefiting from the partnership with the charity.

I think this campaign would lend itself really well to social media, too. It would be fantastic to have the Send a Cow social channels ‘taken over’ by the community, so that they could interact with the UK audience directly, telling their stories first-hand or even sharing their best farming tips or recipes. We could drive traffic to the microsite and further raise awareness through a giveaway, allowing the audience to claim a free pair of custom VR glasses to make their experience even more personal and allowing them to view the community as member of it.

Through this campaign, the audience in the UK would be transported to the community, not as saviours or observers, but as equals and friends. I think that connection would really resonates with the audience!

Q: Why did you choose Send a Cow?

A: One of my sister’s friends used to work with them. She doesn’t anymore but that was how I first became aware of the charity. I wanted to support a Bath charity because I am based in Bath and I can’t lie, I also really liked the name! It’s really memorable. I had a call with Azita, the Communications Manager, to learn more about the great work they do. It sounded really inspiring and they all seemed really passionate about what they are doing.

Here is the short documentary Alice & Agnes which premiered at Afrika Eye Festival in Bristol and recently won a Silver Award at the Charity Film Awards.

Thank you very much, Lauren, for letting us interview you and for telling us about this interesting charity and the amazing work that they do.

Find Send a Cow online:

Facebook: /Sendacow

Twitter: @SendaCow

Instagram:@SendaCow

Website: www.sendacow.org

For more information contact:

[email protected]

01225 871 915

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