Shopper Innovation Awards: Raising the Roof hits the streets

The lowly donation box was re-imagined by creating life-sized ones that featured emotional images of actual homeless people.

This story appears in the May 2015 issue of strategy.

Gold: CSR

Every year, Raising the Roof holds a donation drive, selling branded toques to raise funds for the homeless. However, even though it’s been successful in selling toques, Raising the Roof struggled to collect cash donations during its drive.

The goal was to increase donations, while at the same time, build awareness for the cause and the plight of Canada’s more than 300,000 homeless.

Leo Burnett began by rethinking what a collection box could be. They’re small and almost invisible – hanging around a volunteer’s neck or sitting on tables with pamphlets. They’re also far removed from the problem they’re trying to address. So the agency re-imagined the lowly donation box by creating life-sized ones that featured emotional images of actual homeless people. The boxes were then placed where a homeless person might be seen. By turning street corners into media space, Raising the Roof got people to stop and reconsider the way they think (or don’t think) about the homeless.

Over a five-hour period, typical collection boxes generate less than $10 per box. The brand’s life-sized boxes generated (on average) $120 per box over the same time frame, which is more than 10 times the normal amount. What’s more, the boxes also drove online donations on the organization’s website. In the end it saw a 554% increase in website donations from the same period the previous year.


Advertiser: Raising the Roof
CCO: Judy John
CDs: Judy John, Lisa Greenberg
Group CD/CW: Steve Persico
Group CD/AD: Anthony Chelvanathan
Account supervisor: Jeremy Farncomb
Agency producer: Anne Peck
Art producer: Laurie Filgiano, Sabrina De Luca
Photographer: Jesse Senko