Founded in 1975 by the late musician Harry Chapin and radio DJ Bill Ayres, WhyHunger is a global leader in building the movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritious, affordable food and by supporting grassroots solutions that inspire self-reliance and community empowerment.
WhyHunger's annual Hungerthon campaign (www.Hungerthon.org) is a multi-channel fundraising and advocacy campaign to fight for an end to hunger in the U.S. and the right to nutritious food for all, which was founded as a Thanksgiving radio tradition in 1975. This campaign recognizes the 42.2 million Americans, including more than 13 million children, who are hungry, raising awareness around attainable and lasting solutions.
The campaign, which runs from November 1 through December 31 with a specific emphasis on the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving, capitalizes on the Thanksgiving season by bringing together radio personalities, listeners, celebrities and fans.
Big picture Hungerthon goals include raising awareness and elevating voices of individuals, partners, grassroots leaders and celebrity supporters for community-based practical solutions to hunger and its root causes as well as raising funds to invest in those solutions. The campaign aims to activate Hungerthon listeners/supporters in calls to action, empowering them to know they can make a difference by hearing stories, learning stats and busting myths; understanding the root causes of hunger; donating; and working towards local and national solutions.
- Radio: Competing stations come together to support including partners SiriusXM, CBS Radio New York, Cumulus New York and iHeartMedia New York. Funds are raised through a coordinated effort including radio broadcasts, merchandise, a live radiothon, social media activation and an extensive celebrity-driven online auction. WhyHunger provides PSAs, on-air reads and social media copy tailored to each station.
- Advocates: WhyHunger staff, celebrity ambassadors and community-based partners educate listeners and raise awareness about the issues, participating in over 30 substantive radio interviews.
- WhyHunger partnered with Entertain Impact (EI) to ensure celebrities have organic connections to WhyHunger's mission. EI conducted extensive research and facilitated unique, clear asks (i.e. speak on-air about ending hunger; donate VIP auction experience/memorabilia, social media support) to celebrity teams. Select celebrities were invited to join Artists Against Hunger & Poverty (https://whyhunger.org/artists) by providing a photo + quote about why they care. Relationships with managers and publicists open unforeseen opportunities in the entertainment industry.
- Artists support by donating auction experiences and advocating for the campaign, WhyHunger's work, and their auction items on social media and on-air with calls to action.
- Audience Engagement and Fundraising: Listeners can bid on the massive online auction at CharityBuzz.com including experiences and unique memorabilia items from top musicians, athletes, and celebrities such as going on-air or winning an in-house concert. Supporters are encouraged to attend Hungerthon events and listen to interviews with community-based partners and engage on social media alongside celebrity, key influencers and fans.
- Merchandise: Listeners can give holiday gifts with meaning from the signature line of Hungerthon gifts, such as a John Lennon "Imagine There's No Hunger" Mug.
- Events: New to 2016 was the Hungerthon Roast and the CBSFM "Holiday in Brooklyn" event with James Taylor, Jimmy Buffett & Sarah McLachlan. Both raised significant funds and brought the message to a new audience.
- Live Radiothon: Leading to a large uptick in donations and engagement, "Live Hungerthon Day" builds momentum and a sense of urgency the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Staff and spokespersons are on-site at radio partners, CBS Radio New York and Cumulus New York, providing social media and on-air messaging support throughout the day. Hungerthon is featured on each station's homepage. Donations are accepted online or via the volunteer-staffed phone room (1-800-5-HUNGRY).
- Graphics: Design: Updated logo, refreshed look & feel, use of WhyHunger red as accent; Images: WhyHunger community-based partners and stock purchased, focus on diversity, individuals and connection
- Social Messaging: Example:
- "Don't just give thanks this holiday season, give back! Take action at Hungerthon.org #GiveThanksgiving"; Image: people gardening together, expression of conviction
- Talking Points / Stats:
- "It's Hungerthon! Visit hungerthon.org to make a real difference in the lives of the nearly 1 in 8 Americans - including 13 million children - who don't have enough to eat."
- Local NYC Stats: 1 in 4 children in NYC live in a home without enough food and rely on emergency food. More than 1 in 4 NYC seniors struggle to afford food.
- Hashtags: #Hungerthon, #GiveThanksgiving
Video for WhyHunger Annual Hungerthon Campaign
- Record-breaking $1.1 million raised
- Twitter: Averaged 4.7K impressions/day for a total of 285.4K over 61-day period; most mentions on 11/1 & 11/22
- Facebook: 686.4K total Impressions from page over 61-day period; most new likes (+57) on 11.24 Thanksgiving. 409,835 total Impressions from Posts
- Over 41.34 million combined followers of celebrities who provided social media support
- Celebrity Support from Yoko Ono, John Lennon, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Emily Kinney, Usher, Jay Sean, K. Michelle, Taryn Manning, Estelle, Jack Johnson, Jordin Sparks, Kenny Loggins, Prophets of Rage, JoJo and Niko Brim, Jackson Browne, Jerry Garcia Foundation, Tom Chapin, Jen Chapin, The Chapin Sisters, Amy Carlson, Backstreets Magazine, Ozzy Osbourne, Duran Duran, Train, Kenny Rogers, Switchfoot, John Fugelsang, Matt Nathanson, KIDZ Bop, Jenny McCarthy
- NYC food pantry visit with Jay Sean, which he live Snapchatted, resulted in strong relationship with his team, awareness, B-roll and photos
- Over 150 auction items with top performers, in-studio experiences and celebrity ambassadors. See confidential section
- 87 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to programmatic work and 100% of proceeds benefit WhyHunger. Funds raised are invested into long-term community-based solutions.
- WhyHunger was able to leverage national momentum to have lasting, deep impact in local communities. By resourcing, connecting and supporting the grassroots leaders who are nourishing our nation and transforming our food system, WhyHunger is working to create a powerful, vital collective to drive change and strike at the root causes of hunger, poverty and injustice.