Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | Because Britain’s children depend on it: Barnardo’s chooses inspiration over shock value

September 26, 2016


I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
-Linda Creed, The Greatest Love of All

Barnardo’s, a U.K.-based charity dedicated to caring for young, vulnerable people, has a history of releasing confrontational content through their ad campaigns, consistently generating controversy along the way. For nearly two decades, their usage of high-impact imagery has garnered views, criticism, and collective discomfort, but now, Barnardo’s has adopted a new vision for projecting their mission out into the world. They approach today, and the future, with keen awareness and wisdom, shifting their focus from shock value to inspiration.

Says Sara Dunlop, director of the video that is the heart of Barnardo’s newest campaign: “Charities’ advertising must work harder to inspire. I don’t mean they should side-step uncomfortable issues—what they present must always be true to the realities of the issues they deal with, and authentic. But after lots of shock advertising tactics over the years, the time is right for a change.”

The charity aims to illuminate sobering truths that involve children, pulling them to the forefront of Britain’s consciousness, and this is an important job; identifying the unpleasant aspects of reality that need people’s eyes, ears, and attention, and beyond that, their help. Because missions are not driven by organizations, they are driven by people. And in prizing inspiration over shock value, Barnardo’s has gracefully transitioned to a world of endless possibilities for their campaign, their mission, and the future of Britain’s youth.

Can one minute inspire in that special way that galvanizes the masses into action? Shock value arouses sympathy, and sympathy can result in action. But what about taking promise, hope, and ace storytelling, and weaving them together? What about setting the narrative against a backdrop of bleakness and Lorde, but allowing enough light to shine through to inspire hope?

What happens when you believe in children?

Check out the video from Barnardo’s to find out.


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