- Mon, December 12 2011
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
A guest post by Barbara Becker
Last week, I wrote about Habitat for Humanity’s clever holiday coin collection box on Huffington Post (How Not to Keep Up with the Joneses, 12/2/11). My kids and I had tested out the fundraising project firsthand. We were excited to fill our little house-shaped donation box to the roof based on our own responses to a series of prompts, including:
• For each room in your home, deposit 10 cents. Talk about what it would be like to live in a one room house.
• For each electrical outlet in your house, deposit 3 cents.
• If you have a pantry to store extra food, be thankful and deposit 25 cents. Many families live day to day for meals.
All was well and good until I started getting several messages from readers asking where they could get their own boxes. Ours had come from my mother, whose church had received them from a local branch of Habitat. I tweeted the matter to Habitat and learned that anyone who wanted a box would have to locate their nearest Habitat office and order it through them. If that local branch didn’t have boxes on hand, then that office would have to order them through Habitat headquarters. Definitely not instant gratification.
The experience got me wondering about what makes another coin collection box so successful—the iconic orange Trick-or-Treat For UNICEF (TOT) box. The 61-year-old campaign has raised more than $164 million to aid children around the world. I did some digging and offer the following five tips for organizations looking for ways to take their small-change fundraisers to scale:
1 - Make it beyond easy for participants to get started.
UNICEF distributes its Trick-or-Treat boxes through schools, local chapters of Key Club International (a youth-led division of Kiwanis International), Crocs stores nationwide, and many other outlets. But don’t worry if you don’t have a box - you can call 1-800-FOR-KIDS and have 10 sent to you. Or you can print a colorful label off the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF website and turn an everyday box or can into a donation vessel.
The UNICEF website also offers simple fact sheets that help kids explain the project if they’re called on to say more than “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF!” and ideas for costume parties and other fundraisers if door-to-door solicitation isn’t your thing.
2 - Shout it from the rooftops.
UNICEF makes the most of social media for the TOT campaign (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube) and it encourages participants to share what they’re doing with their own networks. New in 2011 is a tool that enables donors to create their own personal or team fundraising page in a few easy steps. There are even on-line Trick-or-Treat-themed games like the “Halloween Coin Toss” in which kids learn safety tips about trick- or-treating, and jump and run to toss coins into orange boxes while avoiding obstacles. Media sponsor HGTV highlighted the campaign in a prime time Halloween television special as well.
3- Provide (and capture) great stories and images.
The TOT website is chock-full of fantastic photographs that reinforce the campaign’s branding. From pictures of the cast of the Brady Bunch posing with their boxes to photos and stories of the children who have been helped around the world, the materials tell the story of both the giver and receiver. TOT also makes it easy for participants to upload or mail their stories, pictures and drawings to UNICEF, the best of which are posted on the website.
4 - Seal the deal.
Once your participants have collected their donations, it’s important to see that the hard-earned money quickly makes its way to your organization. UNICEF offers many channels for returning the gifts: on-line donations, forms for mailing in checks or money orders, and phone lines that will take credit cards. This year, UNICEF added a postage stamp-sized “Scan to Donate” tag to their boxes and on fundraising materials so that anyone wishing to donate can do so directly through their smart phones. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can text the word “TOT” to UNICEF (864233) to make a $10 donation.
5 - Remember to thank your donors!
Even if you and your team aren’t Trick-or-Treat Heroes featured on the UNICEF website, you can still print a Certificate of Appreciation to present to anyone who has helped make your campaign a success. This is especially great for recognizing the contribution children make to the campaign.
Of course, all of these things take dedicated resources and staff time. The Trick-or-Treat campaign is serious business over at UNICEF. But with some big dreaming and a little smart planning, you might just be able to turn your grassroots fundraising campaign into a gold mine for your cause too!
Barbara Becker is principal and founder of EqualShot , a strategic planning & communications firm based in New York, and a faculty member at Columbia University’s masters program in strategic communications. She blogs about her experiences teaching her children to be responsible global citizens & she always appreciates tips for activities they can test drive! @equalshot