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Adoption assistance non-profit Gift of Adoption wanted to make a splash during November 2017’s National Adoption Awareness Month with its first nationwide social campaign that highlighted the last hurdle many families face when adopting—finances. The organization partnered with Chicago-based firm 3rd Coast PR for a pro bono influencer campaign.
The 3rd Coast team was charged with garnering support from celebrities, athletes and media outlets to raise awareness among target audiences for the charity, which is removing financial barriers for qualified parents to move forward with adoption.
“As a pro bono campaign for a nonprofit, we did not have any budget to work with,” explains Betsi Schumacher, executive vice president and managing director at 3rd Coast. “This easily could have become an impassable barrier, but we were able to identify influencer partners who had a strong connection to the cause and were willing to participate without fees.”
Read on to see how 3rd Coast put together a terrific campaign that exceeded all goals to gain some excellent visibility and coverage for the charity—and earning a Gold Award in the “Best Not-for-Profit/ Association Campaign” category in Bulldog Reporter’s 2018 PR Awards.
With Gift of Adoption’s nonprofit status, the team had extremely limited resources to line up notable influencer partners who would be able to make an impact on the message that the charity wanted to share during National Adoption Awareness Month. The 3rd Coast team developed a unique and engaging program that would help deliver key messaging across traditional and social media platforms to create exposure for the organization.
By creating a month-long social media hashtag campaign (with viral potential) to celebrate families overcoming the financial hurdles of adoption, they were able to expand awareness of Gift of Adoption as an important resource for adopting families.
They asked people to post a photo or video on social media that represented the “last hurdle” of adoption, such as leaping over a park bench, kids in a pool or playing leapfrog. The request resulted in some really visual and engaging content.
“We identified this call to action that was directly tied to the one of the organization’s main key messaging points, which is helping families overcome the financial hurdles of adoption,” Schumacher offers. “It was a fun, and meaningful CTA for our target audience, and it also resonated surprisingly well within the professional hurdling community.”
To track the progress of this program, each participant tagged a designated hashtag, #MyGOAHurdle, with each photo to help the campaign go viral. To kick off the social campaign, the team recruited influencers with a tie to adoption to share their #MyGOAHurdle snapshots.
3rd Coast partnered with athletes like Kendra Harrison, a world-renowned hurdler who was adopted, and Scott Hamilton, an Olympic figure skater, to help build excitement around the campaign.
Ultimately, 26 posts were made throughout the month—many from Olympians and professional athletes—as a result of the influencers challenging their fellow teammates and friends to participate.
Overall, the pro-bono PR program for Gift of Adoption resulted in 507,045 social media impressions and 200,000,000 potential media impressions, exceeding the goals set by the client.
“We were happy with the level of participation from members of our target audience, and also were pleasantly surprised to see such a positive response in the hurdling community,” Schumacher relates.
The team’s tactics successfully positioned Gift of Adoption as a leading adoption-focused nonprofit on a local and national level while driving awareness and donations during the timely campaign.
Secrets of Success
Schumacher provides a key tip that you can use in your next non-profit campaign—and exemplifies why 3rd Coast PR and its client won Gold in Bulldog’s 2018 PR Awards. “When faced with limited budgets, identify true stakeholders who are willing to go above and beyond to help deliver your messaging and support your cause,” she says. “It may take some serious digging, and you’ll likely hear ‘no’ a million times before you get a yes, but in the end, the authentic (and budget-friendly!) partnerships are worth it.”