Nonprofit revamps office fundraising pitch

From left: Think804 Creative Director Jason St. Peter, Art Director Molly Covert, and Design Manager Mary Kim. Photo by Jonathan Spiers.

From left: Think804 Creative Director Jason St. Peter, Art Director Molly Covert, and Design Manager Mary Kim. Photo by Jonathan Spiers.

A fundraising campaign familiar to local businesses is kicking off this week with a new look and message crafted by a Glen Allen ad agency.

The United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg launched its latest campaign on Thursday to highlight its Community Impact Fund. The organization worked with local creative shop Think804 on marketing materials to be used for the fund’s workplace campaigns, in which participating companies present the materials to employees to gather donations.

The materials include brochures and a video and feature stories of people the United Way helps as a result of the fund, which invests donations in select programs and agencies.unnamed

Last fiscal year, the fund awarded $4.1 million to 63 programs provided by 48 agencies. Contributions came from nearly 17,000 donors, with 478 companies participating in the workplace campaigns.

The United Way reports those programs helped more than 86,000 people in need. The focus of the campaign’s new marketing effort is to turn donors’ attention to those people the fund helps, said Jason St. Peter, creative director for Think804.

“It seemed to us that everything the United Way was doing was very focused on what they were doing and not necessarily the people they were helping,” St. Peter said. “We convinced them to talk about the people they were helping and tell a story that starts with one person’s point of view, branches out from the individual to their family and the community, and builds a bunch of stories to show why the United Way is important.”

The campaign material, to be presented to employees of hundreds of local companies in the coming months, features stories of people facing different life challenges and how the fund improved their lives and the lives of those around them. In addition to brochures, the materials include a three-minute video, which Think804 produced with local production company Sprocket Media Works.

“We wanted to illustrate that figuratively and literally, so you see it from a very simple, digestible front cover that’s fun and engaging,” St. Peter said. “You don’t need to know it’s the United Way to start caring about this sort of thing and reading into it.”

St. Peter said his shop was recommended for the campaign by a client who serves on the United Way board. He said Think804 landed the account through a competitive bidding process.

Joan Marable, spokeswoman for the United Way chapter, said the results were a new approach in the way it reaches out to the hundreds of workplaces it relies on for the fund each year.

“By raising awareness of the Community Impact Fund, we hope that it’ll help people stop and think, ‘Oh, there is somebody behind this screen protecting my investment and investing my hard-earned dollar wisely,’” Marable said.

In addition to the fund, donations can also be made directly to qualifying charities chosen by the donor. While donations are accepted from individuals and other groups, Marable said the workplace campaigns are the United Way’s largest fundraising source.

United Way held a kickoff event for the campaign on Thursday at the Richmond Raceway Complex. It featured food trucks, games and music, as well as a canned food sculpture competition. Workplace campaign managers from Colliers International, Genworth Financial, UPS Freight and Thompson, Siegel and Walmsley built the sculptures with canned foods each company has collected. Items will then be donated to area food pantries.

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Jason St. Peter

Full campaign can be viewed here –