Doing It Right! United Way Calgary and Area (Calgary, Alberta)

Most every United Way uses posters to help spread their message to donors and the community about the campaign and upcoming events. Thermometers, telephones, people in Live United shirts, cars, cookies, cupcakes; you can find just about anything on a United Way poster if you look long enough. Unfortunately, most posters do not help the reader to better understand United Way; especially when many posters focus on fundraising. One United Way that has a series of posters that tell the United Way story in a meaningful way is United Way Calgary and Area (Calgary, Alberta). They have developed a series of three posters, including this poster about domestic violence:


The eye-catching red and blue doors and the number “5,000” attract readers who, upon reading the poster, find out that 5,000 is the number of women and children who were unable to obtain a spot in a domestic violence shelter in 2011. At the bottom of the poster, under the words “Thanks to You,” people can learn about the efforts of United Way Calgary and Area to support 4,950 men, women, and children to help them deal with domestic violence.

What are they doing right?

First, the focus is on domestic violence, one of the issues addressed by United Way Calgary and Area. It is clear from the poster that United Way Calgary and Area is dedicated to addressing the issue of domestic violence and why that issue is so important. Because every United Way works on issues that are important in their community, and not every United Way works on the same issues, this poster shows that one of the issues in the Calgary area is domestic violence.

Second, there are several statistics on the poster, which explain how significant the domestic violence issue is in Calgary. The number of people unable to obtain a spot in a domestic violence shelter (5,000) and the number of men, women, and children supported through United Way (4,950) provide eye-opening information about how many people are impacted by domestic violence. A lot of times, people may think that social challenges and issues like domestic violence do not exist in their community – that they are something that happens elsewhere. The use of statistics like these helps to reinforce that these challenges exist in the Calgary community and that United Way Calgary and Area is addressing these challenges.

Third, the poster includes Web site and social media information, so people who are interested can take the next step and find out more. Of particular note is the blog at, which shares ideas about social issues in and around Calgary. Providing people with links to additional information and social media can be easily included on any poster.

Posters are a wonderful opportunity for United Ways to get the message out to donors and the community – and all too often these posters only reinforce United Way as fundraisers with larger thermometers or campaign incentives. United Way Calgary and Area has used their series of posters to share a story of the issues they are addressing and how donors can make a difference by giving to United Way. The next time your United Way is designing a poster, consider what United Way Calgary and Area has done and use your poster to engage donors and the community in a whole new way. United Way Calgary and Area, you are Doing It Right!
Gary First name Sig GREEN.png