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Thursday Thinky: Design, Fundraising & Opportunities

Cutting through the clutter of ads and information can be challenging in a more normal time. And when everyone is impacted by the same situation, it can seem even more daunting. That’s where visualization, sounds, and many other design tools come into play.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, we’ve seen great use of various storytelling mechanisms that stick with people. There was no shortage of them this past week so we decided to put them into our Thinky spotlight, along with great fundraising and advocacy resources.

Hang in there, we made past mid-April!



Creative & Brand


AKQALaunching global radio station to improve morale during lockdown (Campaign Live)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): While we’re all more physically isolated right now that we’ve probably been in our lives, we’re also more socially connected than we’ve ever been before, too. Between the Zoom happy hours/seders/Easter brunches, HouseParty app, and so many other platforms that it’s hard to keep track, there’s definitely no shortage of ways to keep in touch. But sometimes all the face-to-video interaction can feel taxing, especially for introverts (or those of us who have taken a bit of a sabbatical from hair and makeup).

So AKQA launched a different kind of initiative recently to keep its staffers connected while apart. Enter WFH FM, the agency’s new global radio station, where teammates can simply listen to music together, if that’s all they want to do, or broadcast their own voices and content through the channel. It’s such a refreshingly analog way to stay connected (even though yes, it’s a digital ratio station), and it takes off some of the pressure of needing to be actively engaged all the time. Well done.


Ohio Department of Health – Crafting the Perfect Visualization of Why Social Distancing Works (Muse by Clio)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): Metaphor and visualization: two of the most powerful storytelling mechanisms that we as an industry have at our disposal. This spot, from the Ohio Department of Health and Dayton-based agency Real Art, brings both together in simple brilliance.

Yes, it’s a bit similar to the match metaphor we’ve been seeing for the past few weeks, but there’s something about the meticulousness of the craft in this one that keeps it feeling more elevated than derivative. Maybe it’s because it was shot on a real set with a skeleton crew, rather than being created using CG. The Muse article interviews the team behind it to get the inside scoop, and it’s worth the read.


In, Out Video (YouTube)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): Speaking of storytelling, could this spec spot from a handful of individual creatives be any more simple? Through the artful use of audio and text, they paint such a clear picture that it’s hard to ignore. It didn’t need visuals or special effects. The minimalism is what makes it work.


Airbnb – Now offers virtual ‘travel’ experiences to keep you entertained at home (The Verge)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): Airbnb has taken a major hit during the Coronavirus lockdown (the lost income from all of the renters on their platform is a different story all to itself). To keep travelers engaged, and to help another subset of its content creators make up some lost revenue, Airbnb is taking its “Experiences” offerings digital, with activities like bartending and cooking classes, virtual bike tours, Korean makeup tutorials, fortune reading, comedy shows, and drawing lessons.

Experiences range from a few dollars up to $65, with a portion of that going to the individuals who are hosting the experiences themselves. I’d love to see Airbnb come up with something similar to help its property renters right now, and perhaps even tie some of the proceeds back to relief funds. They are taking a step in that direction by working with a handful of organizations to offer free activities for the high-risk older population, helping to keep them entertained while they’re sheltered in place.




WHO – Rolling Out Interactive Health Alert Experience on Messenger From Facebook (AdWeek)

From Melvin (Account Director):Before learning that President Trump was halting funding to the World Health Organization, the international body teamed up with customer experience management platform Sprinklr to launch a Facebook Messenger bot, called Health Alerts, that lets you access the latest news and data about the COVID-19 pandemic. This move comes after the WHO already launched a similar, and successful, initiative on Whatsapp, another chat platform owned by Facebook. Many other international organizations and governments have embraced Messenger to make an effort to meet and reach people where they are in this time of crisis.




Now is the time to invest in fundraising (

From Nicola Leckie (Account Director): This is a great article that encourages all of us people of action to step back for a moment and think about these two questions: Will my organization emerge from this scourge with a stronger revenue program than before it? Has withholding investments in fundraising hampered our response to this pandemic?

The article is primarily aimed at major gifts and development and walks you through some steps to think long term. But it is also relevant to your direct response program and hammers home that investing now in your fundraising staff and operations will give you capacity to continue to cultivate your donors and apply for relief funds. While cutting costs is absolutely necessary right now, beware of underfunding your fundraising efforts. The goal is to make your fundraising team a revenue generator. We are in the field of “advancement”, we should not retreat!




Idealist’s list of opportunities (

From Clara (Senior Advocacy Account Strategist): One of the worst things to feel in the face of hard times is lack of agency, the feeling that the outcome is going to be negative and there is nothing you or I can do about it. When we’re going through adverse circumstances, one of the most comforting and powerful points around which we can orient ourselves is what we *can* do to affect change within our own circle of influence.

And though there are so many negative factors that confront us continuously on social media and the news media, it is heartening to find there are ways we can make a socially-distanced difference for good. Even if we can’t volunteer in person, engage others in our causes through in-person events, or head to our in-district offices and meet with members face-to-face, there are plenty of ways each of us can take action and have impact online. Idealist has created a list of COVID-19 volunteer opportunities—a great place to start if you’re looking for a meaningful way to use that commute time you got back or just a way to push back against the badness. Change makers have never had an easy road forward, but that has never stopped them, and it shouldn’t stop us now.


Thanks for reading today’s Thinky. See you next week!

PS: If any of the above made your wheels spin, we’d love to hear your thoughts — get in touch with us!

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