United Way is on a roll with its LIVE United launch

Rolls of T.P. collected for LIVE Uniteds brand launch, courtesy U.W.C.C.R.

Rolls of T.P. collected for LIVE United's brand launch, courtesy U.W.C.C.R.

I haven’t been this tempted to make bad puns since I helped process envelopes containing, uh, samples, for a mail-in colorectal screening program run by Sutter Health way back when.  Whoever said marketing was glamorous?

It’s no surprise that the United Way of California Capital Region (UWCCR) staff had a hard time containing themselves when they came up with a novel way to attract attention to their rebranding effort – a toilet paper drive to benefit local non-profits: “So, you’re going to roll out a TP campaign? Or….. United Way is going to wipe out financial woes? Or perhaps one of the staff favorites…. Let’s flush away some budget concerns!”

While the TP drive (a success, by the way, with 33,471 rolls donated) led to a fair share of tittering, the goals of the re-branding effort were serious:

  • United Way needed to prove its relevance in an era when younger workers are more likely to be self-employed or employed in small businesses, and quite capable of deciding how to spend their time and money to benefit charitable causes.
  • It wanted people to understand that United Way’s workplace campaign is a good way to make a difference in its three funding areas:  education (helping children and youth reach their potential); income (promoting financial stability and independence); and health.
  • It needed to attract younger volunteers — and find fresh ways to engage them — rather than relying on “more seasoned” leaders to guide its committee efforts
  • It had to “go social” — expand its communications to more interactive and personalized approaches

United Way continues to enjoy good community support — even growing its workplace giving campaign last year — but it wasn’t about to rest on its laurels.

The results of the LIVE United brand re-launch are still coming in — an e-survey just launched Monday, in fact — but here’s a little about their strategy/tactics.  (Full disclosure:  I served on a United Way marketing communications committee that helped advise staff planning the launch, and am sharing this information with the permission of the team there.)

LIVE United is part of a national rebranding effort.  The brand essence is active — that you can make a difference in your community by getting involved.  United Way wants to be — and be seen as — a vibrant partner in community engagement.

Now, how to get people to notice?  Staff planned a week of launch activities in June.  Through a flash mob, volunteer appreciation event at the River Cats’ baseball game, and service project, which became a toilet paper drive benefitting all agencies served by United Way, it hoped to attract at least 300 people to get personally involved during the week. 

It also had to develop new ways of reaching and interacting with people:

  • A revamped website that conveyed the new look and feel, but user-friendly enough to meet the functional requirements for more than 30 distinct constituencies
  • A presence on Twitter and Facebook (Causes)
  • Email address capture and follow-up (through registration)
  • E-survey feedback, not only about volunteers’ experience with LIVE United activities, but perceptions of volunteering in general

So what happened?  What worked well and what would they do differently?  Tune in tomorrow for feedback from the team!



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2 responses to “United Way is on a roll with its LIVE United launch

  1. Lori

    This posting by Betsy just exemplifies why Steve Heath was a genius to recruit Betsy to advise our United Way Capitol Region Marketing Committee! Betsy’s knowledge about branding and social media is incredible and her counsel to the committee was critical to the very successful outcome of the Live United Launch! I could be biased since Betsy is a dear friend — but I’m also a HUGE fan of her incredible expertise in marketing and strategy! Her support of nonprofits in the Sacramento region will be to their everlasting benefit. Corporate America’s loss is the people’s gain!

  2. Aw shucks…. I don’t know quite what to say, ‘cept that it’s a huge privilege to work with some local agencies that do amazing work with very lean resources. Spent early afternoon today with Women’s Empowerment here in Sacramento, and was awed by the service they provide and the results they achieve….