First individual digital giving program launched last month

Toronto–After nearly one year of preliminary discussions, Stephen Thomas Ltd (ST) has been tasked with developing an integrated fundraising strategy for Special Olympics Canada (SOC), a national registered charitable organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with intellectual disabilities through sport.

The goal of the new fundraising strategy is to find ways to expand and diversify SOC’s revenue base beyond its solid grassroots foundation and existing corporate sponsorships, which include Tim Hortons, Staples, Sobey’s and Kia Canada.

“Special Olympics Canada has a very well-known and respected program in this country,” says Sarah Eyton, Vice President, Fund Development for SOC, “but the fact is we know we’re only reaching a fraction of the people who could benefit from our programs and the way for us to do more is to bring in more donated funds.”

“We’ve seen that our U.S. counterparts have a very successful individual giving program they run through digital and direct mail fundraising,” Eyton adds, “so we’d like to try to do something similar here in Canada.”

As such, SOC – and the Special Olympics Canada Foundation – turned to ST to develop an acquisition campaign to acquire monthly donors. This strategy is designed to extend the organization’s fundraising efforts across numerous new channels in advance of the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games, to be held in Antigonish, N.S. July 31 to Aug. 4.

The first element of the strategy, an online acquisition campaign, launches this month and will be driven through Facebook. A direct mail campaign will follow in March.

“The strategy we’ve developed and are in the process of bringing to market,” says Liz Attfield, Senior Account Director, ST, and Strategic Counsel on the SOC account, “will be unique for direct response fundraising in that it’s heavily led by digital tactics and channels. In particular, storytelling will be a significant part of the effort, as the stories around the courageous people at the heart of the Special Olympics movement very naturally deliver tremendous emotional impact.”

“We believe digital is the best approach to give Special Olympics Canada the wide reach it needs to build its brand and meet its fundraising goals,” Attfield says, “but we’ll watch how the market responds and evolve the strategy where and when it makes sense.”

“This effort is about putting our case for donor support out to the market,” says Eyton. “People don’t give if they’re not asked, and we need to be out there asking.”

ST is a full-service agency specializing in providing branding, marketing and fundraising services to the non-profit sector. Founded over 37 years ago by founder Steve Thomas, our goal is to collaborate with our charitable clients to help them raise more money.

Established in 1969, the Canadian chapter of this international movement is dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport. Operating out of sport clubs in 12 provincial and territorial Chapters, this grassroots movement reaches beyond the sphere of sport to empower individuals, change attitudes and build communities. From two-year-olds to mature adults, more than 45,000 athletes with an intellectual disability are registered in Special Olympics year-round programs across Canada. They are supported by more than 20,000 volunteers, including more than 15,000 trained coaches.

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