CASSIES Bronze: The Salvation Army makes a big change

“Tipping Point” showed how the smallest of donations (a coin in a kettle) could have an immediate impact.


Situation Analysis: The Salvation Army is the largest non-¬governmental provider of social services in Canada, offering practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life. The combination of increased demand for services and increasing competition for share of charity donations was putting pressure on The Salvation Army, a charity that had high public awareness, but low relevancy. As well as increasing donations for Christmas 2013, the image of being an old persons’ charity needed updating to create greater interest in the social organization itself.

Insight & Strategy: A research deep dive coupled with stakeholder interviews revealed that, while the charity had an out-of-date image, its work was more relevant than ever: those using the Salvation Army’s services were growing in great numbers, getting younger and much more racially diverse than previously thought.
Research also revealed the most important thing that Canadians required when deciding to donate to a charity was a demonstration of tangible results. The Salvation Army brand icon (the kettle or most often “the red bucket”) had become a barrier as Canadians were beginning to see donations to The Salvation Army as “a drop in the bucket.”
However, people helped by The Salvation Army hoped for small immediate things (a bed to sleep in, food to eat), not big things (a lottery win) that the public might expect. Given the huge portion of the donations received by The Salvation Army via the kettle collection mechanism, it had to be demonstrated how effective a drop in the bucket could be in fulfilling the charity’s mission.

Execution: Launched in May 2013 across television, TSAs and radio, “Tipping Point” showed how the smallest of donations (a coin in a kettle) could have an immediate impact resulting in a “tipping point,” while the media plan allowed for the greatest reach without sacrificing the ability to tell the stories of those in need.
On television, three animated executions demonstrated a single dollar drastically changing someone’s circumstances for the better: from homeless to home, underfed to fed and unemployed to employed. In radio, the listener experienced the thoughts of a homeless person imagining their life was essentially the same but with one small wish fulfilled. OOH demonstrated that the more money placed in kettles, the more one can make change.

Results: Donation revenue grew through the campaign period of April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 by 5%, against a reported negative charitable contributions universe with only the Salvation Army of the top five charity brands in Canada showing donation growth. The 2013 Christmas season was record-breaking for the Salvation Army, with more than $21 million raised in six weeks. Web traffic was measured as a proxy for increasing relevance, showing an 18% increase versus the prior year measured by both sessions and unique users, with page views up 21%.

Cause & Effect: The budget for the campaign was flat versus the prior four years and only 13 new kettles were added during 2013, increasing the average kettle’s collection from just over $7,500 to over $8,000.

Client: The Salvation Army
National director of marketing and communications: John McAlister
Agency: Grey
President & CEO/account director: Stephanie Nerlich
CCO: Patrick Scissons
CD/CW: James Ansley
AD: Yusong Zhang
Producer: Sam Benson
Account director: Jennifer Kinrys
Planner: Malcolm Mclean
Production company: Nexus
Retouching: Time-Based Arts
Sound design: Fonic
Audio house: The Eggplant Collective
Photographer: Shanghoon