Strategy & Marketing

Non-Profits: Why Not Try Humor to Share Your Message?

Sure it’s a world where great causes are often difficult, and deal with horrible issues like poverty, homelessness, or drug abuse.  As a result, most efforts at sharing the message of non-profits are deadly serious.  But more and more creative non-profit organizations are mining the virtues of humor in messaging, and it’s working.  Variety Magazine covered a “mockumentary” called “The Majestic Plastic Bag” produced for the Heal the Bay environmental group.  It’s fabulous.  Narrated by Jeremy Irons, it’s been a huge success with more than 100,000 views just in the first 5 days on YouTube.  To date, it’s been seen by nearly 2 million viewers.  Obviously we shouldn’t trivialize serious issues, but
I would encourage you to explore the possbilities of humor.

Often, a little comedy connects with an audience in ways other approaches just can’t accomplish.

Any great comedic ideas out there that would help a nonprofit tell their story?

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  1. The mockumentary is hysterical. I would be curious to know how much genuine action it provokes. Whether it’s humorous, fear-based, or whatever, I just wonder how many people actually take action as a result of seeing a video.

    Not that we shouldn’t take your advice. We gotta get the word out somehow and maybe humor bypasses people’s objections easier. I’m just curious.

  2. This video is hilarious! I laughed until I cried. Whoever put this together is a genius. I think the sarcasm really brought the point home when the true reality about the pollution situation was revealed.

    Thanks for sharing this, Phil. Gives us all something to think about in terms of being able to preserve our environment as well as make an impact through other causes that we are concerned about.

    One of the issues that I’m concerned about is bully prevention. That’s why I wrote the book, Speedsuit Powers. I believe that helping young people discover their talents and purpose will help stem this growing epidemic. I will be looking at alternatives for getting the message across.
    Allen Paul Weaver III
    Author, Speedsuit Powers

  3. Humor and sarcasm are the most difficult forms of expression to do well. It’s so easy to be misunderstood, to go for the cheap laugh, to generate controversy just for its own sake. Anyone can be funny and irritating, but funny that makes its point is genius. This reminds me of someone like Bill Cosby, who uses his gift of humor for a bigger purpose.
    Echoing other comments, I do believe humor can break down some of the barriers. But it has to be done with care and sensitivity. The bullying issue is a great example–one wouldn’t want to appear to be making light of such a deadly serious issue.

    This is going to have my brain churning. Thanks…I think!

  4. Brilliant! I think many nonprofits would benefit from this tactic. Perhaps not the ones involving human suffering, but the possibilities are endless for the others!

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