New York Cares wanted to launch a volunteer recruiting effort in the summer of 2015 to reverse the slowing growth of our volunteer base ahead of our busy fall project schedule and fill hard-to-recruit-for positions on some of our programs that require significant time commitment.
Our approach consisted of two core objectives:
1. Create a memorable mass-reach umbrella campaign (print, digital, and digital OOH) to encourage caring New Yorkers to volunteer with New York Cares.
2. Adjust the main campaign into a focused digital effort highly targeted toward New Yorkers who fit our high school tutoring profile to volunteer their time and skills to be part of New York Cares' College Access program offerings (SAT Prep, Financial Aid Consulting, College Application Prep, and Sophomore Study Skills). Volunteers for college access programs have historically been the most difficult group to recruit because of the training required and the committed (multi-session) nature of the volunteering.
We set the following goals for these two objectives:
1. Obtain 15,000 new volunteer account creations on our website.
2. Garner 1,000 registrations for College Access trainings and informational sessions.
New York Cares partnered with Our Man in Havana, a creative agency, to design powerful marketing material, urging New Yorkers to volunteer.
First, we identified qualities necessary for successful design:
1. Volunteers are heroes: volunteers are regular New Yorkers who've made a commitment to their city. We wanted to feature this commitment in a way that celebrates these simple yet heroic actions.
2. Solving big issues isn't complicated: in NYC, poverty and struggle are often quite visible on the commute to work or on the news. These issues, such as homelessness or education achievement gaps, can seem complex and daunting. We wanted to show that, through New York Cares, you can make a difference.
3. On-brand messaging: New York Cares strives to be uplifting, playing to one's joy and positivity, rather than trying to evoke guilt or negativity. Our ad creative had to stay positive in its visuals and call to action.
Our Man in Havana then delivered the following concept:
We've all said it, or at least thought it: "If only someone would (blank)." And that blank gets filled in by any number of things. Like, "do something about this," or "fix this," or "stop that," or simply, "If only someone would step up and help." So what if we stopped thinking that someone else will step up and we started being the people that actually do? That's exactly what this campaign urges New Yorkers to do - get people to shift from thinking that someone else will step up and to get them to be the person that actually does. We strive to tell New Yorkers that, as a volunteer with New York Cares, they can be that someone.
Examples of designed creative include posters that say, "There must be someone who can clean up this park" next to a photo of an actual New York Cares volunteer with the tagline "Be the Someone." A video says, "I wish someone would help that homeless man," with the tagline "Be the Someone" running over multiple photos of volunteers. An online version simply states, "Be the Someone who helps a student ace her SATs."
To launch the campaign, we partnered with media companies GroupM, Kinetic, Xaxis, and Mindshare. They helped build a multi-media campaign integrated across channels while, in the digital space, targeting specific demographics.
The following are a few highlights of where the ad campaign ran, with all placements generating 40 million impressions and views by the end of the campaign:
New York Cares also launched an associated recognition campaign on our social channels called 'Someone of the Month,' where current volunteers are interviewed and highlighted on a Be the Someone Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
With the stated campaign goals of increasing new volunteer accounts created on our site and boosting volunteer recruitment for our College Access programs, we saw the following results in just the first two months of the campaign. From August-September 2015:
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