Digital & Social Media

Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound


Homeless charity and transit authority pair up to help the homeless get home

Homeless youth charity Ladder has teamed up with Public Transport Victoria to create a new way for commuters to donate. The Donation Posters campaign is a series of interactive billboards which allow Australians travelling on the metro to simply tap their NFC-enabled public transport cards on the advert to give to the charity.

The digital posters feature an image of a young homeless person along with the message ‘tap here and we’ll donate a fare to help the homeless get home.’ Commuters simply tap their travel card on the device attached to the screen to give a payment equivalent to the value of a single journey fare.

After a passer-by donates, the homeless person featured on the digital screen smiles before appearing to walk out of the poster. The image is replaced by an on-screen ‘thank you’ message.

The campaign was created by George Patterson Y&R, Melbourne.



Donation Posters removes all of the barriers to giving, helping to encourage microdonations by making the payment method approachable, contextual and highly visible.

In the moment advertising. We’re all used to seeing the homeless on our journey home, but there’s a host of factors that stop commuters from giving – including not carrying cash or worries about how the money will be spent. The billboards allow people to give in a way that’s far easier and safer, while still tapping into the emotive tug people feel when they see someone in need.

Plus, contrasting the plight of those without a home with people being stressed and frantic about the speed at which they’ll make it back to their safe, warm houses is a brilliant way to put things in perspective, providing an extra impetus for people to give.

Travelling with ease. The campaign uses a similar approach as Penny for London, an opt-in initiative introduced on the London transport system which asked commuters to donate one penny every time they used a contactless card to pay their fare. Both encourage micro-donations, allowing people to give small amounts frequently rather than signing-up to ongoing charitable commitments or giving large sums at once.

In the case of Donation Posters, it also makes giving a very public, visible act. This taps into the cognitive bias of herd behaviour: humans are far more likely to do something if they see that it is an action that lots of other people are doing, too. And it means it’s likely that the charity will see a serious growth in donations, with fairly minimal cost or effort.

George Feinn:

There are enough worthy charities in the world to fill a cavalcade of Pope mobiles. So how do you break through and create a message that simply can’t be ignored? For George Patterson Y&R, Melbourne, the answer was to create interactive billboards that not only stood out in the crowd – but literally stare you in the face.

Located in metros in Australia, the video kiosks for non-profit Ladder feature young kids looking both into camera and around the station with a lost look in their eyes. And with good reason. The organization’s aim is to help get approximately 25,000 homeless Australian kids off the streets. And thanks to the campaign, help may very well be on the way.

The real-time feel of the video does a wonderful job of generating empathy at a time when the audience can relate most, on their way to and from their own home. If capturing attention is job one, job two for any non-profit effort is making it easy for people to donate. Once again, the campaign comes through.

By enabling donations by simply tapping NFC-enabled public transport cards on the poster, helping out the less fortunate turns into the easiest part of a commute. And once riders do, the homeless person in the video smiles and walks away, leaving only a message of thanks behind. Who says you need a bar car to feel good on your way home from work?

I can’t help but wonder if the kids featured in the videos look better off than most victims of homelessness. Was it to shed a better light on them to induce more donations? Maybe. Then again, perhaps it’s just a reminder that we shouldn’t judge those in need. Either way, I have no problem telling you that my opinion of the Donation Posters idea is a very positive one. Just like the campaign itself.


About the author

This article was syndicated from Contagious Feed, an indispensable resource to the marketing communications industry focusing on competitive intelligence, best practices, new technology and consumer behavior. In addition to the flagship quarterly publication, app and Feed, Contagious has developed a consultancy and a series of world-class conferences.

George Feinn helps lead FleishmanHillard's creative team, and spent over two decades in advertising before joining the agency in 2012. During his career, George has worked on many of the world’s most recognized brands, creating advertising and communications messaging across various media platforms including digital, TV, radio, print and outdoor.