United Way goes online with mission-focused campaign

BALTIMORE: United Way of America launched its first large-scale public awareness campaign targeting online media.

BALTIMORE: United Way of America launched its first large-scale public awareness campaign targeting online media.

The campaign, Goals for the Common Good: The United Way Challenge to America, promotes the nonprofit's plan to fund programs related to health, financial stability for families, and high school graduation rates by 2018 (for the next 10 years), according to Sally Fabens, director of media and public relations at United Way. It targeted a broad US audience rather than just those that have donated to it.

The PR team, which included in-house staff as well as longtime AOR Edelman, pitched bloggers, online news sites, and standard national media outlets, including blog TacticalPhilanthropy.com, Philanthropy News Digest, The Terminal and ElectricCityWeblog.com. It also provided talking points and a copy of the news release to its regional branches to guide their interaction with local media.

“We're meaning it to be as big as it seems,” Fabens said. “…In the past, we've overemphasized on the give part. We want to focus on the mission.”

Included in the campaign was the launch of Liveunited.org, an interactive Web site that allows users to donate online, sign up to volunteer, or advocate by purchasing a Live United T-shirt. CEO Brian Gallagher also plans to start a Live United blog later this year and Facebook challenges might be added to the campaign, Fabens said. Gallagher has also participated in a number of Web and podcasts with bloggers and other media.

“It's very interactive, with a whole different feel,” Fabens said. “It's our largest Web effort.”

United Way America, which is made up of 1,300-member organizations, says previous campaigns focused on traditional media outreach rather than Web with the exception of two earlier campaigns, Text-to-Give and Alternative Spring Break, which aimed at younger demographics. The new initiative was announced May 15 at United Way's annual conference in Baltimore.

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