Team spirit helps United Way raise awareness

Andy Goldman-Gray, SVP of marketing for Greater Twin Cities United Way (GTC United Way), explains that payroll deduction gifts have historically accounted for 90% of donations.

Client: Greater Twin Cities United Way (Minneapolis)
Agency: Padilla Speer Beardsley (Minneapolis)
Campaign: Join My Dream Team
Duration: July 23 – September 3, 2010

Andy Goldman-Gray, SVP of marketing for Greater Twin Cities United Way (GTC United Way), explains that payroll deduction gifts have historically accounted for 90% of donations. Corporate downsizing has impacted this model, and GTC United Way asked Padilla Speer Beardsley (PSB) to help connect with potential donors outside the traditional workplace.

The team developed a social networking contest called Join My Dream Team.

Strategy
The contest called for people to join one of four cause teams – hunger, shelter, wellness, and literacy. Land O'Lakes, Xcel Energy, HealthPartners, and Target each sponsored a team, donating $1 for every person who joined. TV media personalities captained teams and recruited participants.

“We wanted to increase the size of the social network – if we asked [individuals] for money on our first foray we probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere,” explains agency SVP Tom Jollie. 

“This was a ‘friendraiser' more than a fundraiser,” adds Goldman-Gray.

A partnership with the Twin Cities Social Media Breakfast group and traditional media relations amplified reach.

Tactics
TV media personalities who are highly active on Twitter were approached to captain teams. Each created entertaining videos calling for participation and communicated about the contest on their social networks and TV stations. Videos were also posted on Dreamteam2010.org, where participants joined teams and learned more about GTC United Way. 

“We knew [the media personalities] would be competitive, and their stations would back it up,” Jollie explains.

Eight local professional athletes were also recruited to join teams and promote the contest on their social networks.

The campaign launched July 23 at the Twin Cities Social Media Breakfast group's monthly meeting. Media captains attended and made pitches for joining their teams. The group's organizer also promoted the contest.

The team conducted ongoing media outreach and posted information daily on GTC United Way's Facebook and Twitter pages.

The participant who recruited the most team members won an iPad. A reception for the top 100 recruiters was held in late September at the Minnesota Twins' stadium.

Results
Fourteen thousand people joined teams. GTC United Way gained 8,800 new email subscribers (a 16% increase in list volume), which Goldman-Gray says is the highest rate of growth ever for the organization. He reports a Vocus analysis showed social media presence increased 1,000% during the campaign compared to the same months in 2009, and media mentions of GTC United Way increased by 75%.

Future
Goldman-Gray's team is devising another iteration of the contest for this year. PSB will continue to support the organization in some capacity.

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