Use a Notable Day to Spur Engagement, Action & List-Building (Case Study: Oxfam America)

Yesterday was International Women’s Day (IWD), an occasion to celebrate the accomplishments of women worldwide. I was thrilled (and, frankly, amazed) to see the creativity and diversity of nonprofit campaigns linked to IWD this year, from IRC’s Wake Up campaign to Doctors Without Borders’ four-part IWD video series.

But today, I want to share with you the particularly compelling, creative and all-inclusive campaign launched by Oxfam America(OA) around its International Women’s Day 2012 Award.

Here’s Why The IWD Award Is So Powerful
IWD isn’t as familiar to many folks as the big-time notable days with more obvious piggybacking opportunities, like Independence Day, Thanksgiving or Black History Month.

But Oxfam America found a way to bring IWD’s essence home to individuals by offering two quick, easy, and immediately-satisfying ways to honor a woman or women they admire for making the world a better place: “She could be a teacher, your mom, a non-profit leader, a woman entrepreneur, the neighbor who always checks up on you when you’re ill… the possibilities are endless.”

Members of the OA community were invited—via email, the Facebook page, the website and other channels to:

  1. Present a personalized IWD award, and/or;
  2. Send an IWD ecard.

See how beautifully these actions emphasize the core meaning of International Women’s Day, at the most personal level. Smart!

But Oxfam America Didn’t Stop There, They…

1) Asked Supporters to Share Their Honorees and Experiences, and to Get Friends and Family Involved
OA generated excitement via the personal actions (card and award) they asked supporters to take but asked them to go public as well to magnify their excitement, by:

  • Sharing out a photo, story or quote from or about the women who inspire them in a public photobook, and/or;
  • Sharing the campaign email via Facebook;
  • Hosting an awards ceremony (and it’s made easy with this step-by-step toolkit—you’ll have to register on the site to see it.)

The folks at Oxfam America know that their supporters (just to give you a sense of scale, they have 51,931 51,938 Facebook friends) are impassioned about the cause and wield a huge sphere of influence. These calls to action are designed to leverage those characteristics.

2) Reached Out to Bloggers to Invite Their Communities to Participate
Oxfam America implemented an admirable (e.g. targeted, specific and with lots of support) outreach campaign to bloggers and other media. I appreciate that because I receive tons of emails and calls of the other kind—the kind that’s all about the organization or vendor, but clearly has not taken a minute to learn what’s covered here or about the Getting Attention community and what’s of value to you.

OA made it easy for me and others in the media to spread the word by providing this blogger toolkit.

3) Leveraged the Campaign to Build Their Email List, and Supporter Loyalty
Each of the actions that OA’s urges folks to take—from sending an e-card to attending an IWD awards program—requires registration.

But there’s more. In offering such a rich range of ways to honor women on IWD, Oxfam America strengthens the loyalty of existing supporters by getting them more involved in new ways, which grows their connection to the organization. So even as Oxfam America advances the cause immediately by building awareness and engagement, it’s enriching its community so it can engage them even more broadly and deeply the next time.

Kudos to Oxfam America…
for shaping a creative approach that piggybacks on a notable day (great technique, try it) to build understanding and engagement on these key issues for women worldwide:

  • 66% of the world’s work falls on women’s shoulders, who earn just 10% of the world’s income
  • If women were given the same access to resources that men have, they could up farm yields by 20-30%
  • Hunger and poverty are based in power &inequality. Women & girls face the biggest inequalities of all.

Learn more about how to piggyback your outreach on open-minded moments here and here.

How do you use notable days or other open-minded moments to advance your campaigns? Please share your stories here.

P.S. Get practical tested peer guidance on strengthening your organization’s marketing impact with the just-released, no-charge Getting Attention 2012 Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom Guide.

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies | 1 comment
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