Bringing charity to community: Making a stranger's day

Influence Global is proud to partner with Make A Stranger’s Day, an exciting new social enterprise that is redefining the way businesses and individuals engage in charitable giving.

From 3rd-9th July 2017, cafés all over Australia will participate in this pay it forward initiative where they encourage customers to add just five dollars to their bill – to buy a coffee for someone else and make a donation to Beyond Blue.

Sounds simple? It is. Which is why this campaign has so much potential. At its core, Make A Stranger’s Day taps into the changing nature of how the public are choosing to engage with charitable organisations. With demonstrated success in Melbourne this year, in 2017 the initiative will spread across the country.

So why does this model work? Regular giving and sustained social activism can be a tough sell at the start of an organisation’s interaction with the public. Whilst it may be the end game, it has been well known to NGO marketers, advocates and communicators that short-term actions are needed first to help establish a relationship with supporters. But competition, repetitive messaging and ‘guilt-driven’ marketing techniques have led to public fatigue – and old tactics aren’t cutting through.

If NGOs and charitable organisations are to build and sustain public support, new approaches to public engagement are needed that address fundamental barriers - and this model is a way of doing that.

1.       Overcome public apathy

The drivers of charitable apathy vary depending on the audience. However, whether they have never engaged in charitable giving, or are lapsed donors, this can commonly be overcome by establishing certain principles within your public engagement strategies and tactics, as set out in Influence Global’s Values-Action Ladder - a unique behavioural change model for NGOs to ensure supporter values lead to sustained action. This includes the ability to clearly demonstrate the impact of actions on the issue – something that more dynamic social enterprises are increasingly able to articulate to the public, in comparison to some of the more traditional NGOs. Also, a pay-it-forward approach and similar techniques are hugely successful in creating personal connection and demonstrating tangible value to the individuals involved.  

2.       Join their tribe

A sense of ‘community’ is critical to sustaining supporter engagement, but too often charitable organisations invest time and resources into building digital or grassroots networks that don’t demonstrate return on investment. Whilst these undoubtedly have their place and can be very effective, the mass public is tired of being approached to join yet another network. Rather than creating ‘community’, organisations need to get better at joining those that already exist. Meeting potential supporters where they are and being visible in the communities that they already know and trust is far more effective. In this case, they go to their local café for brunch every Sunday – so Make A Stranger's Day and Beyond Blue are meeting them there.

3.       Finding new markets

Whilst retention and growth of current supporters is critical to sustaining social change and increasing levels of civic participation, organisations also need to find new markets for charitable giving and activism. There is of course cynicism about short-term engagement and ‘charity’ itself is often dirty word within the sector. But whilst sustained social justice is the desired end goal, it is imperative to get new audiences engaged if this is to be the reality. And transactional actions like this in trusted environments are the perfect entry point for future conversations with Australians about community issues and social support.


If you want to help make a stranger’s day, find out more about how your organisation can support the growth of this exciting initiative.