Saving Christmas for Those in Need
- Create awareness that, due to Hurricane Sandy, donations were down for The Maine Children's Home for Little Wanderers annual Christmas Program
- Immediately increase monetary donations and donations of toys, books, games and clothing
- Raise awareness of the organization within the local community and across Maine
Each year, the Christmas Program distributes boxes of gifts and clothing to approximately 1,600 financially disadvantaged children throughout the state. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, donations decreased significantly because two resources the nonprofit traditionally relied on for large donations understandably shifted priorities to aiding families in New York and New Jersey affected by the hurricane. NMC had less than a month to help The Maine Children’s Home fill its urgent need for donations.
NMC mounted an aggressive media relations push to inform the public that the Christmas Program was in dire need of donations. Gift packing day, when volunteers begin wrapping and packing items for delivery to those in need, provided a great visual for the television news stations. NMC also worked hard to secure interview opportunities for Maine Children’s Home staff and provided them with interview talking points to ensure the message stayed clear and consistent.
The agency also helped The Maine Children’s Home build a page on the organization’s website where those interested in donating could view a list of needed items. The page was mentioned consistently in media interviews to help ensure the Christmas Program was able to provide what was most needed by the people it serves.
Social media was also used to boost interest and donations. The agency posted a photo on The Maine Children’s Home Facebook page depicting empty donation boxes with the message: “URGENT: We need to fill these boxes for our Christmas Program.” This post included a link to the website page bearing the list of needed items. The accompanying message was strategically placed within the photo so it would accompany the photo wherever it was shared. Though the agency had a Facebook advertising budget of just $50 to help promote the post beyond the organization’s group of Facebook followers, it was ultimately seen by 6,406 Facebook users.
The Christmas Program public relations campaign generated more than 200 column inches of coverage in local newspapers, more than 85 minutes of radio air time, and more than 18 minutes of television news coverage. In addition, the campaign helped increase The Maine Children’s Home’s Facebook following by more than 80 percent in less than one month. Website visits increased 139 percent in that same time period, equating to 1,100 new views per day during the campaign.
Media coverage had a direct impact on the increase in website visits. For example, when local television news station WMTW and daily newspaper the Morning Sentinel both covered The Christmas Program on the same day, Web traffic increased by an impressive 160 percent.
The organization was ultimately able to raise more than $54,000 in donations and serve a record 1,600 children, marking a huge success since program donations had never surpassed more than $20,000 in years past. Gifts also came in from all across the country, something that had never happened before.