Plan Canada’s ripple effect

The non-profit behind Because I am a Girl looks to drive awareness for the organization as a whole.
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Non-profit organization Plan Canada has embarked on its first full-scale awareness campaign for the organization (which runs the “Because I Am A Girl” campaign) by showing that any help Canadians can give goes a long way to changing lives in the developing world.

The new campaign plays on the idea of the ripple effect in water, with TV spots, online pre-roll and out-of-home ads. In the videos, Plan shows the point of view of a girl in a developing country as she goes on a long walk to fetch water from a dirty pool. The videos changes when the girl can instead get clean water steps from her home, after which she is also able to do things like see a doctor for a checkup and get access to books. Plan worked with One Advertising and The Aber Group on the campaign, which began in mid-October and will run until Nov. 23.

“We thought telling the story through one child’s eyes helped to personalize it,” says Karen Howe, SVP/CD at One Advertising. “You don’t just build one house, or buy one water pump. It’s a long-term sustainable difference that involves the whole village in a holistic way.”

The ads echo a theme present in Plan Canada’s newest campaign for Because I am a Girl, that a little bit of help can create long-lasting, far-reaching effects on people’s lives. Paula Roberts, EVP of marketing and development at Plan Canada, says only 11% of charitable donations in Canada go to international development, so to be relevant to Canadians, the campaign aims to show that any portion of giving can go a long way. Roberts says that the target for the campaign is women between the ages of 30 and 50, who tend to be more globally aware when it comes to the impact they want to make.

While Plan Canada has done campaigns for its individual initiatives in the past – like Because I am a Girl, Gifts of Hope and Spread the Net – this is the first broad-scale awareness campaign it has done for the organization as a whole. Roberts says the biggest challenge Plan faces is the clutter of messages and organizations in the non-profit space. But she says the individual initiatives have laddered up to help the organization differentiate itself enough, so that the time was right to broaden awareness for the wider organization. For the 2013 fiscal year, the organization’s campaigns resulted in $166.4 million in donations.

“With advertising spend needing to conform to acceptable levels of cost per dollar raised, this approach worked well for us in the beginning,” she says. “Now, people have come to know and love what we have offered, so we are in a position to share the bigger message of the mother brand.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Plan had raised $46 million in public donations since 2009. That figure was for fundraising related to Because I am a Girl alone.