Veterans face challenges in the one place that should offer security: home. The Home Depot Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the world's largest home improvement retailer, is focused on improving the homes and lives of U.S. military veterans and their families. Team Depot, the company's associate-led volunteer force, activates year-round, with a concentrated effort during Celebration of Service, a two-month volunteerism campaign focusing on veteran housing issues that culminates on Veterans Day.
In Celebration of Service's sixth year, the bar was set higher than ever. The previous campaigns continually set records, surpassed key performance indicators, and most importantly created safe and accessible homes for thousands of veterans. In 2016, The Home Depot Foundation looked to create a broader understanding of its mission. Customers continued to ask for a way to directly and emotionally connect with Team Depot efforts. The Home Depot Foundation challenged MSLGROUP to implement a program that would continue to inspire The Home Depot's workforce and better engage media, nonprofit partners and customers.
MSLGROUP worked with The Home Depot Foundation to research the continued needs in the veteran housing space and how to make the most impact through associates' unique skillset and storytelling. A holistic look at nonprofit partners' and third party research showed: More than 39,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and more than one million veterans are considered at risk of homelessness. There has been a 60 percent increase in veterans with service-connected disabilities since 1990 and more than 9.4 million veterans are age 65 and older. Many of these veterans need home modifications to remain independent. Team Depot witnesses these statistics first-hand: An Iraq War veteran putting himself through school to support his wife and six children, while their home needed financially out-of-reach, critical repairs. A 96-year-old World War II veteran and quadruple Bronze Star recipient whose home did not meet his accessibility needs. MSLGROUP and the client prioritized highlighted projects to address these specific needs, ensuring the most impact on veterans while uniquely showcasing the Foundation's capabilities.
MSLGROUP used a variety of strategies to engage The Home Depot Foundation's target audiences and reach customers looking to learn about the mission of Team Depot:
#ServiceSelfie Campaign: Reinvigorated and strengthened the #ServiceSelfie campaign to drive followers to take social action to help raise money for veteran causes. Participants were encouraged to celebrate service in their own communities by sharing a selfie of them volunteering or conducting a giving action. The Home Depot Foundation committed to donating $1, up to $500K, for each social media action which included sharing a #ServiceSelfie on Twitter or Instagram or liking, commenting on or sharing one of Team Depot's posts honoring nonprofit partners that serve veterans.
Influencer Outreach: Activated online influencers Ben Uyeda and Melissa Michaels to help bring service to life. Ben, a popular DIY blogger, attended a Team Depot project and documented the experience on his social channels. He created and donated a special custom-built table for a veteran family. Blogger Melissa Michaels of The Inspired Room featured her own #ServiceSelfie with her family and discussed a local volunteer opportunity they were using to help military families. Both influencers encouraged followers to share their own #ServiceSelfie and get involved in their local communities.
Content Creation: Evolved the Team Depot content strategy to share veteran stories in a more impactful way that shifted the conversation from associates to customers. Featured stories were more emotional and packaged in a clean format to increase social consumption. A social media ambassador toolkit was created for associates, veterans and nonprofit partners to better bring to life the impact of Team Depot and source greater stories.
 National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
 Department of Veteran's Affairs
 United States Census Bureau
The 2016 Celebration of Service campaign successfully surpassed all set objectives, as laid out below:
OBJECTIVE: Make more than 500,000 social media connections (including beating the average 72-day amt of engagements)
RESULT: Made 674,000 social media connections – a 995% increase over the average of 61,000 engagements in the same time period
OBJECTIVE: Raise visibility for The Home Depot's efforts to help veterans, along with the efforts of Team Depot and their nonprofit partners by doubling average channel growth and reaching more than 5 million people online
RESULT: Increased Team Depot followers by 5.8K, an increase of 657% over the average of 766 followers gained in the same time period
RESULT: Reached 19.6MM through posts during the Celebration of Service campaign, a 236% increase over average reach
OBJECTIVE: Donate $500,000 to veteran causes through #ServiceSelfies and social actions
RESULT: Donated $500,000 to veteran causes through 62,000 #ServiceSelfies – a 186% YOY increase in selfies alone – and 498,000 social actions
OBJECTIVE: Share posts created with five nonprofit partners to reinforce The Home Depot leadership in veteran housing support
RESULT: Highlighted nonprofit partners through a series of creative content that garnered 404,000 social actions
OBJECTIVE: Build brand recognition by partnering with well-known online influencers
RESULT: Drove 74,000 social connections and reached 2.6MM people by reaching out to popular influencers in the DIY and nonprofit spaces