Sad charity video – does it still work?

The emotional push & pull of charity video

We’ve all seen them – the charity video that’s full of of emotionally upsetting scenes. And we know why charities do it – we’re supposed to be overwhelmed with compassion and dig deep into our pockets.

But new research suggests that going for the heart strings with a sad charity video is actually making viewers turn off.  Here’s how to harness the power of the positive in your video.

What’s the alternative?

In a world where we’re surrounded by less-than-optimistic media everywhere we go, perhaps a more positive and uplifting approach is the better way forward. We’ve blogged several times about using a range of emotions in charity video – everything from humour to anger. This time we’re featuring 3 campaigns that harness the power of the positive.

The power of empowerment


LGBT people’s experiences in public can be hostile and even violent. Unfortunately this is the scary reality for many. But this short and snappy film takes this fear and turns it on its head, with the campaign’s message instead focusing on strength and acceptance for the LGBT community.

It’s particularly touching the moment two men holding hands in a pub greeted with a nod and a smile – a simple scene, but one that holds a lot of power. An inspirational message.

The optimistic outlook


Not entirely a charity video but we’re always pleased to see brands being positive…

While the amount of plastic that enters our oceans every second of every day is a scary reality, this film isn’t all doom and gloom.

The up-beat soundtrack and community spirit of the film encourages us to be proactive and get involved to put a stop to this environmental destruction.

Adults and children are seen waving reusable water bottles, dancing and chanting ‘be an ocean hero’. We’re inspired to use the #OceanHero hashtag and share our experiences on social media. In the modern world where social media is a large part of people’s lives this is a great way to spread the message of any campaign.

The value of comedy

Henry the Lost Dog: DOGS TRUST

This final example looks at one of our own films that we made for the Dogs Trust.

While the safety of stray dogs is the main concern, the ‘Trigger Happy TV’ style of storytelling is funny and a great way to engage an audience. It’s not everyday you see a man dressed up as a dog rooting through bins and playing fetch with a stranger.

We’re told the facts but we’re allowed to laugh. Where a sad video of a lost or abandoned dog could have given the same message, the comical theme of this film leaves the audience with laughter and something light-hearted to remember if they ever find themselves in this situation.

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imogen gower magneto producerImogen Gower in an assistant producer at Magneto Films. She recently graduated from King’s College London with a degree in English Language & Linguistics. Imogen has joined the team at Magneto and is training in film production.

Magneto Films Logo London video producersMagneto Films is an award winning production company that specialises in working with brands, technology and the charity and public sectors. We specialise in telling real stories, working with case studies and real people to make films that move people to action. More about Magneto Films

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