Photo: Massoud Hossaini/@WFP Afghanistan/ Arete . A child looks on as her mother and a doctor talk at the main hospital in Chaharikar, capital of Parwan province, Afghanistan.

As the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 continue to escalate across the world with over 60 million reported cases, now, more than ever, it is essential to tell the stories of those in need.

Although the global pandemic has presented NGOs with new and challenging circumstances for securing funding, some of which we will cover in more detail later, marketing efforts should be ramping up and not winding down. One should not give up telling the hard stories; those about people who are suffering from the effects of COVID-19 and other crises; those in urgent need of support.

The poignant question still remains: How do you garner backing for your campaigns amongst your target audiences when…

· Unemployment is rising and incomes falling — and will continue to do so. As a result, many people are struggling financially and turning to charities and their governments for support.

Financial uncertainty means people are less likely to support charities through monetary donations, as people try to reduce any non-essential expenses.

· Common freedoms have been restricted, such as the ability to purchase certain items, the freedom to go and do what we want, and the freedom to see who we want, when we want.

All of which is underpinned by feelings of powerlessness and frustration that the enforced circumstances of this challenging time lie beyond one’s control.

It’s not all bad news for driving advocacy…

A combination of being ‘locked down’, furloughed, working from home with more time on our hands and the ensuing winter months, mean that the average person is spending much more time in their home than usual, and as a result, more time online, watching television and engaging with other forms of media. This presents a unique and interesting opportunity to introduce new causes and brands via digital channels — albeit in a carefully curated way, as we will go on to discuss.

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that ‘lockdown’ is leading to increased boredom. With less external stimulus, people are becoming more adventurous in the media they consume; looking to engage with stories vastly different from their own.

How we are helping WFP Afghanistan tell the story of their support for the Afghan people — as featured in the Telegraph

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete . Life goes on, girls walk to school on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan.

As an example, Arete photojournalist, Massoud Hossaini, has been covering the current situation in Afghanistan — documenting the inspirational resilience of the Afghan people as well as the unrelenting lengths the World Food Programme will go to in order to be able to reach people all across the country.

Afghanistan is facing spiralling levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. Close to 17 million Afghans, or 45% of the total population, now face high levels of food insecurity and need urgent humanitarian assistance in order to survive. That’s 7.6 million more than at the beginning of this year, before COVID-19 hit. Around 2.9 million children and pregnant and breastfeeding women are malnourished.

In 2020, the World Food Programme scaled up its emergency food assistance to support more than 10 million people, nearly doubling the number of people WFP reached in 2019. Nutrition programmes are reaching more than 1 million individuals, including children under 5, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete. A local guard warms his hands in Kabul.
Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete. World Food Programme trucks carry much-needed food supplies across the snowy Afghan mountains.

People who relate, donate

The global pandemic’s devastating effects have reached individuals in every socio-economic group. Many previously financially stable individuals, in more developed countries, are now experiencing unemployment, economic uncertainty, restrictions on personal freedom and an underlying sense of powerlessness and frustration with the current socioeconomic situation, with no end in sight.

Although this is an undeniably difficult set of circumstances for anyone to experience, it does present an opportunity for empathy to flourish. We are all connected by the far-reaching effects of this virus. It is possible that previous content and stories shared by NGOs, may not have been as relatable to the middle-class as they are now. Successful fundraising should tap into this new feeling to create a shared experience between the supporter of one’s cause and those in need.

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete. Residents of Kabul who are affected by COVID-19 pandemic line up to register to receive cash assistance from the World Food Programme in district five of Kabul city.

Content that engages and inspires

The stories we choose to tell can also be a great source of inspiration for people who may be struggling as a result of the pandemic. Content that shows people responding to adversity with strength and resilience can inspire and lift our emotions. These feelings of positivity will often be attributed to your brand and campaign as a result — driving response to, and engagement with, your cause.

Photo: Dakman/ Quinn Mattingly/ Costa Foundation/ Arete

Don’t underestimate the importance of presentation

As with all forms of impactful marketing, the success of one’s campaigns will ultimately come down to how well they are aligned to the contemporary mood and challenges of the target audience.

It is at a time when it may seem prudent to delay planned campaigns until after the worst of the global pandemic has passed. In fact we should be sharing our hard hitting stories and campaigns now more than ever.

Our award-winning journalists and content specialists are eager to help you make a difference. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.

Now, more than ever, it is important to tell the stories of those in need… was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.