The McKnight Foundation is a private family foundationthat supports organizations working to advance a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. When Covid-19 forced a full stop on all in-person gatherings, programs, and services, many of our nonprofit partners had to shutter their doors.
They met these daunting circumstances with creativity and grit, finding ways to provide ongoing care, hope, and connection with our community. To honor their innovation and showcase examples of ingenuity, we created Bright Spots. Research captured in the book Switch by Dan and Chip Heath tells us that solving complex challenges requires an essential first step: a ray of hope. By highlighting solutions and illustrating how similarly constrained people found ways to overcome barriers, it inspires and models a way forward for those in despair.
Our goal was simple: spark joy for our partners and friends in the face of an uncertain future and make hope more contagious than fear.
We sought to celebrate our nonprofit partners in an easily scalable way that would enable us to feature a large number of grantees and community members simply and efficiently.
To offer the larger context of the campaign, we created a web page to share our framing and host the vignettes. The page also gave our audience a collective view of all the inspiring work taking place in our community and an opportunity to learn more about each feature.
We went live with the campaign after we had collected and uploaded a dozen features on the website. Over the course of two months, we added new content to the web page weekly and featured the individual vignettes on social media.
Midway through the campaign, we decided a video would be a powerful way to exhibit the work as a collective. Much of the content for the video was recycled directly from the web page/social media posts, and we included additional photos and videos to bring our partners’ efforts to life.
We set out to raise spirits and celebrate the innovation of our community in the face of the pandemic. Ultimately, we featured 42 partners on our website and social media platforms. Our grantees and community members embraced the campaign and several reached out to share their #BrightSpot to add to the collection. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive:
“THANK YOU!!!! <3 Our open call to artists launched today to extend the project”
“Miigwech (Thank you) for featuring [us] in your #brightspot! We are grateful and thankful”
“Aw, you're putting a pep in our step—or rather, a bounce in our commute to the home office?”
“Grateful to be in this work with you.”
“Thank you for shining a light on our work.”
The reach was notable, given the modest scale of our project. Our social posts garnered more than 90,000 impressions, more than 1,000 people visited the web page, and more than 6,000 people watched the video.
Other organizations have reached out for insight as to how to replicate the campaign, and our colleagues have routinely adopted the term “bright spots” when describing the good work they see in the community.
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