Video storytelling drives donations for Shelter 

14th January 2020

With 78 families becoming homeless every day in England, there is more urgency for the housing charity, Shelter, to raise funds than ever. At Hurricane, we thrive on collaborating on video marketing campaigns for non-profits with causes we believe in and are proud to be working with the charity Shelter on its Christmas fund-raising campaigns.

Shelter came to Hurricane to develop a solution to support their static digital campaign with video. We understand how to create compelling stories to drive behaviour change, and our campaign for Shelter revolves around powerful, personal narratives with an emotive story arc.

As part of the video strategy, we created both branded content and video ads to encourage action focussing on personal stories. Three adverts were developed targeted at different audience segments with paid video ads. Then those who expressed an interest were retargeted with additional content marketing.

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Back to a Good Place – charity video advertising campaign

‘Back to a Good Place’, our video advertising campaign keys into the, particularly evocative, childhood memories of Christmas past. The content shares moving stories that demonstrate how Shelter helps people to get ‘the only thing they want this Christmas – a home’.

We created three videos telling the stories of Shelter clients, Sireena, Rhys and Limarra, to bring Shelter’s amazing work to life. The stories share an emotional narrative arc, where a happy childhood family Christmas scene is interrupted by homelessness, which will then be resolved with Shelter and donations to the cause.

Take Rhys’ story. In our film, he reminisces about happy childhood Christmases with his grandmother. When she died, things fell apart, and he ended up on the streets. Rhys notes that winter is particularly harsh for those without homes and that people are dying on the streets.

The narrative comes to a resolution with Rhys explaining that Shelter was “a shining light in the darkness” helping him to get his life back on track. The video ad ends on a positive note, with Rhys looking forward to a happy Christmas off the streets and in his own place.

Video activation

In terms of video seeding, the films are being distributed via YouTube pre-rolls, programmatic ads, and paid social. The Hurricane team created multiple versions and native videos for the various channels.

The content has resonated with the audience and has already been highly successful in driving donations for the charity. For instance, the video ad featuring Rhys has generated 1452 donations and counting.

Branded content

As part of a broader video marketing strategy, in addition to the video ad campaign, we developed branded content for Shelter. This content marketing continues the arc of our video campaign following the stories of people whose lives have been transformed by the brand.

We heard that the charity was releasing a Christmas single featuring a choir composed of those whom Shelter had helped. As creative strategists, we knew that there were persuasive, moving stories that just had to be told here.

The charity single, “A Place to Call Home” is a collaboration with Shelter, ENO and a former BBC Young Composer of the Year, Alex Woolf. The single is part of a passion project, Sing for Shelter, conceived by Woolf to raise awareness of the housing and homelessness crisis in the UK.

Our film again takes viewers on a moving story where the equilibrium is disrupted only to be resolved at the end by the charity. The branded content concentrates on one of the singers in the choir, Missie Biellie Dee. She goes on a journey from being a successful singer to becoming homeless and now with Shelter’s help has a home and is singing again.

When she was 21, Missie Biellie Dee secured a role in a musical and went on tour. She returned to London when her mother became ill, but after she sadly passed away, Missie was left without a place to stay.

Shelter helped Missie find a place to stay and invited her to sing in the choir at St Martin’s in the Field in London with others who have been supported by the charity. In our film in a touching moment, Missie dedicates her participation to her late mother. Shelter has not just helped her to get a place to live but to reconnect with a vital part of her identity – singing.

How to get involved

Homelessness is a cause that matters to us all, so please do share the campaign videos and donate what you can.

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