Spring is Here! Let's Bring Out the Sidewalk Chalk!

It’s beginning to look like spring again and students would rather do anything than go to class. Perhaps they would like to volunteer for United Way on a nice, sunny day?

This is a great time of year to ask students to get involved with your United Way. Sidewalk chalk on a university’s campus is a great way to get your name and the issues you address out there, as well as to promote Day of Caring and volunteering for your United Way. Not only will your sidewalk chalk messages create curiosity of what United Way is and what you do in the community, but it will also create a buzz about volunteering for your United Way.

If students are aware of what your United Way does in the community and volunteer for your United Way, they will be more inclined to donate to your United Way, once they have graduated. I know, for example, that on my university’s campus (Western Michigan University), many student organizations take advantage of the sidewalks on campus to advertise their messages to students walking to and from class. By writing your message on the sidewalks of your local campus, hundreds, if not thousands, of students will read what your United Way has to say. You could also consider partnering with your local university and student organizations to get the word out about your United Way, as well as ask a student organization to set-up a Day of Caring with its members. At Western Michigan University, a representative from our local United Way gives a presentation to the Western Student Association, a student government organization.

The challenge with sidewalk chalk is that you have very few seconds to get your message across to students, as they are walking to and from class. A message that says something like "United Way, Live United" may not be enough to strike up curiosity. By adding something, such as the specific issues you address (more than Education, Income, and Health), or a "did you know" question about the city or county you represent, you will be more effective in grabbing students’ attention and informing them about your United Way’s impact in the community.

Use these sidewalk chalk messages as an opportunity to market to the younger generation and start creating relationships with them. If you are located in a college town, students make up a majority of the population and gaining their support is crucial. Tell them who you are. Invite them to get involved. Don’t just tell them to Live United – show them how they can get involved and make a difference in the community.


P.S. – If you’re familiar with the phrase “April showers bring May flowers,” you may be wondering how you’re going to communicate your messages in sidewalk chalk this month. Check out these cool rain stencils that you can use, which only show up when the area is wet.

Also, read “What Young People Know About United Way