United Ways across the country are busy promoting their campaigns right now. There are dozens of United Way Web sites with campaign goals and campaign kickoff invitations, as well as thermometers, campaign videos, and campaign materials. As an Issue-Focused Consultant for United Ways, I am always excited when I see a United Way designing their campaign materials around their issue focus. United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area (Grand Forks, ND) focused their campaign kickoff and their campaign video on their issue of poverty.
Pat Berger, President/CEO at United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area, told us about the success of the event. "We kicked off the campaign with a very new event for us," Pat said. "We asked people to bring items for local food shelves and had a baked potato bar with a free will donation. I had no idea what to expect and it was a huge success! As the picture shows (see below), we stacked the stage, made $1,000 on the potato bar (potatoes were locally donated), and 14 of our local agencies that work directly with clients in poverty had booths in the Market Square. Tying in our poverty focus with donations to food shelves really got our message out."
What are they doing right?
First, they are focusing their efforts on the issue of poverty in their community. Instead of highlighting their fundraising goal and asking people to give to support United Way and/or local partner agencies or programs, they are asking people to "Join the fight against poverty in our community."
Second, they are engaging donors and community members by asking them to take part and #BeAHero. Community members were encouraged to fill a bag of donations and help "stack the stage" at United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area’s campaign kickoff.
Third, they are communicating a clear and consistent message about poverty across all of their campaign materials using a variety of communication methods. It is clear to donors and the community that United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area is focused on addressing the issue of poverty, and they explain how to help make an impact.
I know your United Way’s campaign materials are already printed and your campaign is underway, but as you go out into the community and into workplaces to tell people about your United Way and ask for their help in making an impact in your community, consider highlighting a specific issue just as United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area is doing. Talk about the prevalence of that specific issue in your community and share a story about someone who has been helped, or if you do not have a story of someone who has been helped, share a story about someone who has volunteered to help. People will not only be more likely to remember your message, but will also be more likely to contribute if they know how they are helping to make an impact in your community.
If you are ready to take the next step toward transforming to an issue-focused United Way, we are here to successfully guide you. Becoming issue-focused involves more than just focusing your message – we will also guide you in maximizing your impact and resources.
Consider becoming issue-focused and maximize your impact, resources, and communication, just as United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area is doing. United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area, you are Doing It Right!