Category: Marketer of the Year – Not for Profit/Government
Winner: The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Laura Syron and Elspeth Baird of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Laura Syron and Elspeth Baird of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

As the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s (PMCF) first-ever socially driven digital fundraiser event, the #NoHairSelfie campaign set a new standard in cancer fundraising. The social media campaign invited “hair-ticipants” to show solidarity with cancer patients by shaving their heads either actually or virtually via the #NoHairSelfie app.

“The challenge was: can we get people involved in something fun, because digital’s got to be fun, but that takes it seriously enough, because obviously cancer is a serious cause,” explains Laura Syron, vice-president, community programs at PMCF. “Can we find a new program in the digital space that’s fun and engaging but acknowledges that cancer patients go through something pretty terrible and allows people to honour that and provide a way to show their support through donations?”

Organizers were hoping to raise approximately $600,000 in the first year, but the initiative exceeded all expectations, bringing in $1.8 million.

“The simplicity of it really resonates with people,” notes Barbara Lockhart, senior advisor at the PMCF. “Almost everyone we spoke to got it, understood it and wanted to participate. We really thought long and hard and controlled the narrative, which is about showing solidarity with cancer survivors.

“The intangible piece that I’m most proud about is the impact that it had on people’s lives, how rewarding it was to participate. We as an organization do many other things—we ride, we walk, we play road hockey, we golf—and somehow this just was a little bit different for people. It allowed them to tell their story and their ‘why,’ and why people do things is a big part of our strategy here.”

“We’ve all been touched by cancer, and when you can go home at night and think, I just helped create something that brought almost two million dollars to the scientists at the cancer centre, you feel good about that,’ says Syron.

Other finalists in this category: TVO and Tennis Canada

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Direct Marketing.


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Lloydmedia, Inc is based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and is a multi-platform media company which delivers a total audience of more than 100,000 readers across four national magazines, three industry directories, and a range of events and online marketing.

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