CAMPAIGNS: Fundraising - Celebrity is stuff of pro bono dreams

Client: Young Dreams Foundation (Redwood Shores, CA)

Client: Young Dreams Foundation (Redwood Shores, CA)

Client: Young Dreams Foundation (Redwood Shores, CA)

PR Team: Strategy Associates (Foster City, CA)

Campaign: Young Dreams Fundraiser

Time Frame: October - December, 2000

Budget: pro bono (projected cost, dollars 30,750)

The Young Dreams Foundation was founded in 1999 by NFL 49er Bryant Young and his wife, Kristin. The organization's initial goal was to raise money in San Francisco and the surrounding area, near where the couple live, and in the Chicago area, where both grew up. The money would be used to assist organizations dedicated to improving the lives of economically or socially disadvantaged children. Young Dreams held its first fundraiser in December 1999 without PR help and Strategy Associates took on raising awareness for the second annual Christmas celebration on a pro bono basis.


The PR team decided to use the biggest free resource it had - Bryant Young. He has media contacts and many celebrity friends, and his face and name open doors. Not to mention that a celebrity adds clout when it comes to getting the attention of sports announcers and television and radio hosts.

The 49ers traditionally give up holding a Christmas party to instead support a charity. So for 2000, the team agreed to attend the Young Dreams Foundation fundraiser, adding more media hype to the event.


Timing was crucial, as the Youngs did not bring Strategy Associates on board until October. The team decided television and radio would reach the most people quickly. Media kits were carefully packaged to not only give details and background on Young Dreams, but a complete rundown on the founder and his willingness to make presentations and give interviews for the cause.

Strategy Associates partner Bill Harris coached Bryant Young extensively, teaching him to hit on the key messages.

According to account associate Thea Desrochers, Strategy Associates focused on radio and television outlets where Young had connections. The agency also sought TV stations willing to host a nonprofit and pinpointed sports stations whose target audiences were likely to want to spend an evening mingling with sports celebrities.

Two main sponsors recruited in 1999 - NEC Electronics and Southbay Construction - agreed to participate again in 2000. Harris sought a third sponsor, Siemen's, to help carry the load. Numerous smaller sponsors tapped by Kristin Young in 1999, and others who heard Bryant Young's message on air, came forward to provide money, purchase tickets and donate auction items.

Bryant Young secured personal friend Danny Glover as guest speaker for the evening to increase the celebrity angle of the function. The Christmas celebration began with 150 underprivileged children enjoying a holiday dinner. The children were then taken on a shopping trip accompanied by 40 to 50 celebrity athletes, mostly 49ers and Oakland Raiders. Ticket holders enjoyed a cocktail reception, dinner and dancing and contributed to the cause by participating in both silent and live auctions.


Fox Sports provided live coverage and an interview with Bryant Young, and also followed six children around while they shopped with a celebrity athlete. Both live and pretaped interviews with Young aired on San Francisco-based radio talk shows such as The Razor & Mr. T, The Don Bleu Show and Renel in the Morning. And television stations such as Bay TV, KTVU and KPIX gave the cause coverage. One radio station offered free promotions for the week prior to the event.

All in all, Young Dreams raised dollars 132,940, three times last year's total.


Strategy Associates is committed to helping Young Dreams next year and this time plans to start earlier, expand to print media, and reach more radio and television stations.

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