Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrates 50th with volunteer push

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta (BBBSMA) celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

Client: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta
Agency: MSL Atlanta and BBDO Atlanta
Campaign: 50th anniversary celebration
Duration: January – December 2010

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta (BBBSMA) celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. CEO Janice McKenzie-Crayton says the organization needed PR help, and she was thrilled to win MSL Atlanta's Goodwin Grant of $100,000 in pro bono services.

“We weren't very good at understanding how to articulate our vision and brand ourselves well,” she explains. “It was the perfect time to gain greater awareness.” 

McKenzie-Crayton also approached BBDO Atlanta, which matched MSL's grant in pro bono ad services and worked with the team to integrate the campaign.

Objectives were to significantly reduce the number of boys waiting to be paired with Big Brothers (more than 1,100 boys); increase Facebook fans; drive at least 25 million media impressions; and establish a platform to sustain ongoing community support.

Strategy
Big Brother recruitment was driven by focusing on the benefits of becoming a mentor and soliciting referrals from current “Bigs.”

“Male apprehension is around commitment,” explains MSL Atlanta SVP Wendy McGill. “Voices of current Bigs are influential and authentic. If we could get them to talk about what's fun about being a Big and what they're getting out of it, we could overcome that apprehension.”

Social media, events, partnerships, and media relations drove PR. BBDO created new branding and recruitment materials, an ad campaign, and secured ad placement.

Tactics
BBDO hosted a launch party in April for media, corporate partners, and community influencers. Media were invited to numerous other events, and pitches highlighted Big/Little matches and emphasized the need for Bigs.

Events included a “Take Your Little to Work Day” in May. Participating corporate partners included Cox and Exide Technologies.

A “Big Experiences Recruitment Challenge” kicked off on Facebook in June. Current Bigs were asked to refer qualified male friends to a recruitment application and to share stories, advice, and photos. Prizes were offered for the most referrals.

The team also drove information about the challenge through BBBSMA's Twitter, website, and email contacts.

Results
By December, the waiting list was down 54% to 525 boys. Male volunteer inquires increased 1,063%. Existing Bigs referred more than 200 potential male volunteers. Facebook likes increased from 850 in January to 1,100 ending December. Total page interactions increased 37%.

McGill reports more than 75 million earned and donated media impressions, with nearly 20 million being “pure PR.” Media placements increased from five in 2009 to 38 in 2010.

Future
BBBSMA continues to drive momentum to cultivate prospects and fundraising.

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