Fundraising campaigns put on hold, cancellation of fundraising events and loss of major sponsors: philanthropic organizations have had to deal with the vagaries of confinement and show agility in order to maximize their sources of income.
As part of our COVID-19 interview series, our marketing experts spoke with Sylvie Bourbonnière, Executive Director at Le Chaînon Foundation, to talk about how she and her team reorganized to create a campaign-awareness blitz in times of pandemic.
Sylvie, tell us, what was your first reaction when the health crisis hit Quebec?
« One of the first reflexes I had was to form a small crisis unit within our foundation, composed of both strategists and our communications and public relations partners, to plan the creation of a large-scale fundraising campaign. The response was very positive. Everyone quickly got on board and brainstormed to create a hard-hitting commercial to be aired on television and radio. We had to be proactive and resourceful. Mario Mercier and his partners at Compagnie et Compagnie suggested that we use the rainbow and combine it with the woman's gender symbol, and we added the famous "Ça va bien aller" (which translates to everything will be alright) to put into perspective the distress of our organization and that of the women we accompany.
From the outset, we didn't want to appear to be taking advantage of the situation. On the contrary, we wanted to make people more aware of the reality of women in difficulty. You know, in times of confinement, these women's isolation is increased and many of them experience even more domestic or family violence. Our initiative was also intended to show solidarity. It was important for us to help other shelters across Quebec, those that had fewer means or opportunities, to shine during this time. It all
created a great impact and we are very happy with the gestures of solidarity! »
In addition to your Ça va bien aller fundraising campaign, which marketing strategies did you use to maximize the profitability of your income sources?
« Like all other charitable organizations, our fundraising activities have unfortunately been cancelled. Le Chaînon's annual golf tournament is usually held with public figures. What we did is simply take our original concept and adapt it for a digital edition. To do so, we asked actresses to record a short message inviting the population to support their regions’ shelters. These messages were shared on various social media.
The response was very positive and a lot of people were quick to help us with all kinds of third-party initiatives. Several gestures of solidarity were made to support our cause: people sold protective masks, scarves, jewelry, home fragrances and so on! All this to support Le Chaînon's mission. Some people initiated fundraising activities on social media, and we partnered with Rogers who shared our message on various media platforms. We gave interviews, notably in the Journal de Montréal to talk about the critical situation of shelters in times of pandemic. All of these solidarity initiatives have helped raise the profile of our cause and our mission. »
If I understand correctly, Le Chaînon Foundation has continued its activities?
« Oh yes, even more so! We have maintained our activities and the house has remained open to our community. In fact, we kept all the visiting women in confinement for safety reasons. This required more housekeeping and support staff, and a more structured logistic. For us, it was a mission to protect these women from their abusers and to ensure the health and safety of all residents and workers. The in-house mobilization was fabulous. I would like to thank Linda Beauparlant and her entire team! »
And your donors, are they still in the picture?
« Yes, it's crazy! We opted for a multi-channel campaign, both digital and traditional. This was the first time that Le Chaînon Foundation used digital strategies. This new way of doing things has been very beneficial for our organization because it has allowed us to broaden our reach, our visibility and also the message we carry. Of course, this type of campaign has brought many new donors to join our mission, all of this at a low cost!
Digital methods work very well in philanthropy. It's very important for organizations to use these kinds of strategies, because as you probably know, the fundraising world is evolving and becoming more complex, even more so with COVID-19. Going digital is a very effective technique for spreading the word about a cause and has a multiplier effect that gives access to thousands of people. It is a matter of sustainability for all those who do not or will not subscribe to it »
Finally, Sylvie, how do you envision the future? What do you foresee as the challenges in philanthropy?
« In fact, what worries me most are the next few months. We've seen a lot of companies close and people losing their jobs, so we're really going to be feeling the negative effects of the health crisis.
In my opinion, companies will be less inclined to make corporate donations or donate time for volunteer work. Of course, organizations will also have to do things differently. We will have to develop a new way of solicitation or change ecosystems to reduce costs and increase benefits tenfold. We will have to find new ways to collaborate and no longer work in silos. We are witnessing the birth of a new kind of philanthropy »
You’d like to get sound advice in terms of philanthropic marketing to maximize your actions and communications? The Suite interactive donna’s team is there to help you guide your efforts with tools and advice tailored to your reality.