One organization, one campaign raising awareness for all not-for-profits’ benefit

One organization, one campaign raising awareness for all not-for-profits’ benefit

< Back to Articles | Topics: Responsible Business | Contributors: Mina Atia, Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Intern, Communications Coordinator | Published: June 11, 2020

After the provincial state of emergency was declared, United Way received a generous donation and launched the Atlantic Compassion Fund. By providing immediate relief of food, shelter, safety and mental health through the fund, it ensures the most vulnerable of the community makes it through this difficult time.

United Way and its 11 locations across Atlantic Canada have raised $4.38 million so far. They were able to provide funding to more than 65 community organizations. As a result, they can all adapt their services, find new and evolving ways to meet the needs of their community.

“A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say, and donating to United Way is kind of like helping raise the tide, rather than helping just one boat,” says Laura Whitman, director of creative services and experience design at United Way.

As most have noticed, United Way launched an incredibly powerful campaign in early May to raise awareness of homelessness. During a time when homes became fortresses for people to keep the pandemic at bay, many had no home to protect them from this shared enemy.

“Homelessness is not the only thing that has become more difficult in this crisis,” says Whitman. “But because our homes have become such a critical part of our well-being, we knew it was a powerful idea,” she says.

The community almost instantly felt COVID-19’s impact on homelessness, poverty, domestic violence and mental illness. But for United Way to collect much-needed donations and spread the word, it had to raise more awareness and drive the message home.

“Issues like homelessness, poverty and social isolation can be difficult to think about, talk about and understand,” says Whitman. “But our organization’s ability to help tackle them really does depend on the general public knowing and caring about them.”

The United Way campaign featured staged scenes of homelessness around the city accompanied by “no home” stickers. The organization teamed up with Wunder, a small local agency specializing in clever and share-worthy ideas who came up with the campaign concept and ran with it.

Social media story sticker “stay home” was the main inspiration behind the campaign. The most popular sticker on Instagram was used by celebrities and thousands of people around the world to share their stay-at-home stories, in support of social distancing.

“It definitely struck a chord with people,” says Whitman about the campaign, which was shared more than a thousand times on social media and covered by numerous traditional media outlets.

“Many expressed sadness about the issue, some praised the effectiveness of the campaign and others wondered why we’re raising awareness instead of helping people,” she says. “We’re still calculating the total reach and other metrics, but we’re thrilled with the results and visibility overall.”

During a downward trend in charitable donations, United Way is no exception to this pre-existing challenge for nonprofits. In addition, the organization has to navigate donors’ growing desire to choose exactly how and who their donations are supporting.

“This particular trend creates a challenge because the role of United Ways across the country is to be local experts in where the needs, growing possibilities and gaps in our community are, then invest donors’ dollars in efficient ways,” says Whitman.

United Way works hard to respect donors’ wishes but at the same time has to explain the value of combining donations, investing their bequests efficiently and leveraging them in smart ways. In doing so, donations can have a cumulative positive impact on the community and other organizations.

“It means donors have the greatest impact possible,” says Whitman. “That a whole network of grassroots community organizations can work together, keep their doors open and focus on what they do best.”

Since the pandemic, many nonprofits including United Way had to work from home. Relying heavily on technology to maintain communication and connection with donors, community partners, elected officials, and other stakeholders was a significant shift for United Way. While the organization is managing well so far, they are still unsure of future implications.

“It’s difficult to predict the impact this may have on people’s capacity and willingness to give over time,” says Whitman. “And it’s an equal challenge to anticipate how much our community’s need for support will continue to grow.”

“Over the last two months, we’ve been teaming up with several local businesses who want to find creative and meaningful ways to show their local love and support right now,” she says. “And we’re always eager to find new ways to build community, together.”

Check out United Way Halifax’s ‘No Home’ campaign video.


< Back to Articles | Topics: Responsible Business

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