TikTok for your charity – leveraging it to reach younger audiences

23 August 2022  |  Insights
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Reaching younger audiences has always been both a priority and a challenge for many charities. How do you encourage the donors of the future to invest their time and money in you, without turning them off with your efforts to reach them in places such as TikTok?

In a recent study, people over the age of 75 were the most likely age group to give to charity in England and Wales. By contrast, those aged between 16 and 24, the youngest age group surveyed, were the least likely to give to charity, at 50 per cent.

The ‘grey pound’ is traditionally the strongest, but for charities who want to ensure their long-term viability, it’s the Millennials, Gen Zs, and younger where serious efforts must also be made.

A 2022 Ofcom report showed that more young people are getting their news from TikTok, Instagram and YouTube and turning away from traditional forms of news media.

Instagram comes out on top as the main news source for 29 per cent of 12–15-year-olds while TikTok and YouTube come in as a joint second, each being top news sources for 28 per cent of the same age group.

What does this tell us?

What’s clear is that the tables have turned for younger generations in the platforms they choose to trust and perhaps those they choose to shun.

Meanwhile, the generations who came before them have had to adjust to the birth and expansion of social media and how it impacts society today, preferring instead to turn to traditional media outlets.

Teenagers today have not had to adjust in this same way, but rather view social media as an integral part to their everyday lives. It’s how they connect with their peers, culture and the world around them – a significant cog in their own social development. They are digital natives.

However, for many charities who seek to reach a multi-generational audience, they need to address the needs of both of these perspectives.

Enter TikTok.

We were just getting used to and embracing the existing social media platforms and dare I say, even to the idea of recording Instagram stories or Facebook Lives. Then, suddenly we were hit with this tidal wave that was a new and, in some respects, strange and startling social platform.

Teenagers, influencers, mums, dads, vicars, teachers (the list goes on) flocked to the platform to make alternative, humorous, thought-provoking, and sometimes controversial videos.

Tiktok examples

Unicef, RNLI and WeAreTearfund on TikTok

However, TikTok is no longer seen as the platform for dance routines and comedy alone, it is being used to cover key world events and breaking news. It’s where thought-leaders share their insights and advice and see their messages spread far and wide.

Marketing platform, The Drum, reported that TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2021 with 656 million downloads and eight new users every second. Yet for many organisations and charities it remains as unknown territory meaning the same muscle previously used to adjust to the birth and expansion of social media on a whole, will need flexing to embrace the benefits of TikTok.

We’ll delve into the ‘what, why and how’ of TikTok over the coming weeks on Jersey Road PR’s own LinkedIn and TikTok channels but for now we’ve chosen three charities doing brilliant things on the platform to reach younger audiences.

Achieving cut through one cat rescue at a time (RNLI)

How do you effectively make lifeboats and coastguard safety relevant and interesting to younger generations? This is how. The RNLI posts everything from rescuing cats from the sea to dramatic footage of lifeguards in action.

One of their recent videos shared a recording of a call made to the coastguard by a group of teenagers which led to the rescue operation of an elderly couple who were stranded at sea.

This content not only pulls on your heartstrings, but it also speaks the language of a younger generation. By connecting on their level and using trending content like ‘Things that just make sense’ and ‘POV you’re getting ready for a shout’ effectively raises their profile amongst younger viewers, positioning their offering for cut through within a TikTok culture.

Making powerful moves to connect with and mobilise younger advocates (UNICEF)

Here is some good news for charities – teenagers are attuned to using social media to harness change, join movements or stand up for injustices.

While all generations can testify to this, it is notably woven into how younger leaders have found their podium and voice in the absence of access to other platforms that older leaders are often privy to.

It’s clear that UNICEF understands this through their #OlderSelfTalk campaign in TikTok for World Children’s Day 2021. Here young people recorded videos talking to their older selves asking questions about the things that matter to them such as climate change, equality, and poverty. The content from age-relevant ambassadors such as Stranger Things actress Millie Bobbie Brown and leading Korean pop band BTS shows intentionality and audience awareness.

UNICEF knows who they’re talking to (teenagers) and who teenagers are already listening to. Most importantly, they’re using this knowledge to inform their TikTok strategy and ultimately connect with young and passionate advocates for change.

Creating a community of poverty fighters with a splash of humour (WeAreTearfund)

When scrolling the WeAreTearfund TikTok one word rings true – community. Take note of the ‘We’ in their handle, the #WeAreOne brand hashtag and their brand language sitting front and centre in its bio communicating that ‘together’ we can end extreme poverty. This is not a quick win when it comes to reaching younger audiences. Yes, building a community in any sense will take time, and trying to do that authentically and with impact on TikTok is another story, yet playing the long game will reap long-term benefits.

If the end goal is having a new generation of committed supporters, then inviting them into a community of like-minded people who share the same desire for change, informing and equipping them at the same time, will nurture their commitment and support into the future.

Their TikTok is home to a succession of video series from different young people embodying the community aspect of social media as they share anything from their own advice on activism, scripture or behind the scenes ‘fails’ of making a TikTok video itself.

All that being said, while much of their content is empowering and informative, they don’t shy away from having a laugh, staying true to the original TikTok culture and overall it’s clear to see the younger WeAreTearfund community growing on the platform.


TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2021, with 656m downloads and eight new users every second.” The Drum

Written by Hollyanne Boyce, Senior PR and Social Media Account Executive, Jersey Road PR.

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