International charity WaterAid has raised £2.25 million to improve access to safe water in Malawi through its The Big Dig appeal which included extensive use of blogging and Instagram images to keep supporters up to date.
Blogs and images enabled community members and project staff in two villages, Bokola and Kaniche, to keep supporters up to date as the projects progressed.
Two WaterAid project staff, Michael Kalane and Nathan Chiwoko, using smartphones and the Instagram photo-sharing network to document the challenges and changes in the communities via the @thebigdig account.
The appeal culminated with the drilling of boreholes in Bokola and Kaniche, bringing communities safe water for the first time. Supporters were able to watch a film of the drilling process, and the celebrations, on the blog.
Marcus Missen, Director of Communications and Fundraising at WaterAid, said: “We have been overwhelmed by our supporters’ response to The Big Dig. To raise over £1 million more than our initial target is truly incredible.
“The appeal also gave us an exciting chance to use digital channels to really connect our supporters with the communities they are helping through our blog and Instagram updates. We think WaterAid is one of the first charities to use Instagram to share stories from the field with our supporters".
The appeal was backed by celebrities, including Camilla Dallerup, Rachel Stevens, Lorraine Kelly, Hugh Bonneville and Denise Van Outen. Supporters who donated by text message were able to hear a 'thank you' voicemail message, set up by CleverVoice, from one of the celebrity supporters.
WaterAid was the first charity to use CleverVoice. Their service enables voice messages to be sent to recipients' mobile phones so they appear as text alerts from the charity, thanking them for their donation and saying a message has been left for them by a celebrity. Recipients are invited to dial in to access the message as if it was a normal voicemail. Thirty per cent of people giving in this way chose to listen to their personal message.