How a Nonprofit Embraced UGC for Incredible Fundraising Success

How a Nonprofit Embraced UGC for Incredible Fundraising Success

For Events

UGC Boosts Charity Marketing

How a Nonprofit Embraced UGC for Incredible Fundraising Success

September 9, 2020
How a Nonprofit Embraced UGC for Incredible Fundraising Success
How a Nonprofit Embraced UGC for Incredible Fundraising Success
For Events

UGC Boosts Charity Marketing

How a Nonprofit
Embraced UGC
for Incredible
Fundraising Success

September 9, 2020

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), is the world’s largest voluntary nonprofit health organization. They’re dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services, and by far one of the greatest tools it has to spread the word about its crucial global mission is video content. It not only connects people who need to feel love and support, but it can be used to educate, inspire, and raise much-needed donations that literally save lives. 


In the last few years, the LLS has tapped User-Generated Content (UGC) for its charity marketing to create a formidable array of genuine and compelling footage featuring success stories, events, marathons, fundraisers, and a whole host of other video content that is hard to ignore. 


However, this isn’t just a story of a nonprofit using the latest technology to further its mission. It’s an incredible tale of success that started out with one isolated project that grew from an acorn into a giant oak. And how the LLS facilitated fundraising, raised awareness, overcame a pandemic, and created something very special that overcame all expectations.


This story is also a roadmap for how any nonprofit can grow its reach and its effectiveness, and if you‘re involved in any kind of nonprofit or not-for-profit organization, the next 5-10 minutes could very well change your digital content strategy for good.  


But to tell the story of LLS and do it justice, we have to go back a few years to a time when stay-at-home meant grounding the kids, and UGC was getting ready to explode. 


Leveraging UGC and Cinebody to create valuable fundraising content 


Team In Training (TNT) is the world’s largest endurance sports training program for charity and the flagship fundraising campaign for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Team in Training focuses on endurance sporting events throughout the year where participants receive professional coaching, training, support, and community, while fundraising in support of LLS. 


The LLS contacted Cinebody in 2018 for assistance filming the Lavaman triathlon, because the software dovetailed perfectly with this kind of footage challenge. Film crews just couldn’t do it (and if they could, they would be a prohibitively expensive logistical nightmare for the scale of the events and the personal nature of the content). A powerful call to arms video was created to encourage entries, and you can feel the passion and the drive from everyone who contributed to the final video. 


In fact, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society loved the content so much that they decided to go with Cinebody again for another staple portfolio event on their annual calendar – America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride. Once again, telling the story of the event from the perspective of the participants really brings that genuine connection to the audience. It feels less like a promotional video and more like something a friend or family member would share with you, and that authenticity only makes the fundraising initiative even stronger. When you see real stories, real people, and real struggles being overcome, dipping your hand in your pocket for a few bucks is almost second nature. 



And due to the success of that video, Cinebody was activated yet again to help create content for a series of Team In Training events, from marathons and triathlons to hikes, spanning the United States. 


“The more you use Cinebody, the more you realize how perfect it is for this kind of content,” said Alexas Santiago, Senior Marketing Associate at The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “Film crews have been the norm for decades, and nonprofits have always defaulted to them for footage. But by putting the cameras in the hands of our amazing volunteers, participants, and donors, we empowered them to tell their own stories free from the very produced and unnatural feeling you get with a typical crew. The people are more open, more genuine, and never get camera shy. It’s just the kind of authenticity you need to connect to the hearts and souls of anyone watching.”


And of course, it wasn’t long before Cinebody was incorporated into other facets of LLS fundraising and awareness campaigns. 


The move from filming events to capturing personal journeys


The pivot from active, on-the-go footage at events and challenges to something more measured and educational may seem like a big leap for UGC content to make, but again it proved to be the right move for the LLS. 


The Student Of The Year fundraising campaign takes place not over a few days, but three months. Think of it as part documentary, part autobiography, as we follow high school students learning valuable skills which lead to fundraising. It’s a journey, and a very personal one for each student involved. 



“By putting the camera in the hands of the participants the content becomes more authentic, natural, and inviting,” said Sam Hughes, Senior Manager, Strategic Marketing at The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and organizer of the Student Of The Year initiative. “You are drawn into these stories, see the students grow and develop, and often feel like you’ve been on that three-month journey right by their sides. It’s amazing to watch the footage come in, which actually auto uploads right after they have finished recording.” 


You can see the powerful results in the video for the 2019 campaign. And for 2020, when filming anything has become a literal nightmare, past testimonials and content was used to create a promo for the 2021 campaign. With so much great content being created by so many people, there’s always more footage available than you could ever hope to use. 


Making UGC a fundamental part of the LLS content strategy


Success story after success story, all involved with content creation, made LLS realize UGC should become a key part of their nonprofit marketing moving forward. And it has now become a staple they can rely upon for all kinds of fundraising and awareness pieces. 


For example, UGC has been utilized to create specific profile pieces for LLS, including the very powerful stories used in the Pop’s Warriors video and the equally moving Caregivers Awareness Month


And then, of course, there’s the COVID-19 situation.


Everyone who creates video content, from nonprofits and charities to major brands and TV networks, have felt the huge impact of the pandemic. When quarantine and stay-at-home recommendations first hit in March, it devastated everyone’s ability to make and distribute content. And for a nonprofit, these videos are an essential part of their fundraising efforts. Without them, donations aren’t as strong. And when donations suffer, people suffer. 


But with Cinebody and UGC as a major part of the marketing plan, the hurdles presented by the pandemic were not really an issue. Remember, the strength of the software is putting the camera in the hands of the individuals who are telling their stories. And that camera is a smartphone; something almost everyone in every corner of the globe now has on them most of the time. Basically, with one click anyone can become a filmer from anywhere on the planet. Social distancing also wasn’t an issue because there are no film crews involved, and no locations need to be booked. This is all done on a personal level. 


In effect, the strengths of the software make it a pandemic-beater. It’s actually designed to be used in social situations similar to what the pandemic created, and it meant that The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was able to keep moving forward with their content at a time when other organizations were at a standstill. Some of the great promotions that came out during the COVID-19 crisis included a thank you video for Walgreens and an awareness piece for their Big Virtual Climb



“We have a saying here at The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – Beating Cancer Is In Our Blood,” said Silvana Cabezas, Social Media Manager. “Well beating cancer becomes a lot harder when you can’t raise money, and our fundraising efforts depend on these powerful videos that tell the stories of our volunteers, patients, donors, and caregivers. Utilizing Cinebody meant we were able to keep on fundraising without missing a beat, and that’s so important because time isn’t just money…it’s life or death.”


UGC is also being tapped for other projects currently in the pipeline at LLS, and has become a key part of their fundraising strategy. Thankfully, the future continues to look very bright with this kind of content in the marketing mix. 


Why all nonprofits should consider following the UGC content model


If you’ve come this far, you are probably asking yourself the question “so should I implement this for my organization, and will I see the same success?”


Well, although every organization and nonprofit operates differently, you just have to look at the benefits of UGC and the Cinebody software to see why the LLS has seen such great results, and why any nonprofit can see the same outcome. 


  1. It’s affordable. No film crews. No equipment rental. No expensive location shoots or travel costs. Everything is done using a smartphone and your own people. It’s beyond budget friendly. 
  2. It’s fast. The footage collected by participants is automatically uploaded, ready to be edited. It’s also organized for easy reference. No file transfers needed. 
  3. It’s directable. You literally call the shots with a shot list you can push to your filmers, and you can even ask for different takes if you aren’t seeing just what you need.
  4. It’s authentic. You’re getting real people, real stories, and real emotions. When you’re fighting something like cancer, that genuine approach makes all the difference. 
  5. It’s easy. Click a link, download the software, start filming. That’s it. So simple. 


UGC is the future of charity marketing and advertising, and Cinebody is leading the charge with its revolutionary software. The sooner you implement it, the sooner you’ll see the same kind of results that the LLS has enjoyed. And when success means saving lives, there’s no better reason to get started.