Cause Doctors: Strategies for Next Gen Men

Experts from Lg2 and Level5 Strategy offer creative ways to kick-start virtual fundraising for programs promoting healthy masculinity.

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 11.05.54 AM
For generations to come, 2020 will be remembered as a year of innovation, reinvention and collaboration  among businesses, people, even governments. Strategy is joining many others during the crisis, and doing its part to help organizations today survive for tomorrow.

Our “Cause Doctors” series is the cousin of “Brand Doctors,” a format from strategy’s archives that enlisted marketing vets to devise solutions for a brand facing new and ongoing struggles. Now, we’re turning experts’ attention to vulnerable non-profits, which are suffering from major disruptions that hinder their ability to fund life-changing programs.

Strategy asked creatives, marketers, academics, consultants and strategists to offer their guidance. And we’ll share their recommendations, one cause brand at a time, throughout the month. So check back here regularly, and make sure to visit CauseConnect to find out how you can personally give (and get) help.

  • Non-profit: Next Gen Men
  • Backstory: NGM looks to redefine what it means to “be a man” by promoting positive masculinities, healthy relationships and gender equity through programs in schools, communities and workplaces.
  • The challenge: The organization is a small nonprofit with an annual budget of less than $250,000. At the moment, grants for youth programs are uncertain, and revenue from its social enterprise work in companies is effectively frozen. Next Gen Men is looking to add value virtually, while building an audience that will support it through these times and beyond.

Chris Hirsch and Nellie Kim, Lg2

While not-for-profit organizations will find a more open and accepting audience to communicate with during these sensitive times, we feel that Next Gen Men, in particular, has the potential to both add value and develop appreciation and gratitude for the role that they can play in the lives of young men and boys during this time.

One way to do this is by creatively including themselves in the ample amount of social content this young target is consuming during lockdown. This could come in the form of a content series partnership that provides short Next Gen Men educational videos that can be viewed in exchange for original content. Imagine a live stream Q&A or new and original “stay-at-home” content from some of Canada’s most popular athletes and musicians on how they’re coping during this time, all brought to you by Next Gen Men.

Speaking of musicians, stay-at-home performances have become the norm across the country, with live shows available to stream almost every night of the week. Sponsoring, or even hosting, a weekly show featuring different live performances across the country could help put them in the spotlight where both information and donation options feel genuine and less forced. And while they have already begun virtual learning programs for boys in grades 7 & 8, imagine the increase in viewership of having these virtual programs taught by celebrities they recognize and respect. Don’t forget, these people are stuck at home too.

Lastly, while kids might be out of school, rivalries between these schools never go on lockdown. Why not provide some healthy backyard competitions between rival schools? Next Gen Men could facilitate and host virtual competitions and partner with pre-existing apps to help track and log the daily scores. Exclusive Next Gen Men content and donated swag could go to the winners. But the high-school bragging rights would last a lifetime.

Regardless of how Next Gen Men chooses to connect during this time, the connection and added value has to take place first. It is the familiarity and gratitude for the role that they play in the lives of people during this uncertain time that will generate the audience and long-term support they need to continue doing the great work that they do.

Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 11.51.14 AM
David Kincaid & James Hunter, Level5 Strategy

A recent Globe and Mail article reported that many men are reflecting on their roles, values, and beliefs, especially around domestic and family-focused responsibilities during COVID-19. While Next Gen Men’s grants are in jeopardy, there is likely more demand for their services than ever before. Now is the time for Next Gen Men (NGM) to raise their brand awareness in a way that’s consistent with our current “new normal” and, as a result, also increase stakeholders’ donation intent.

NGM can action their mission – creating spaces to engage, educate, and empower men and boys around gender – and grow their brand’s low awareness by securing a strategic partner, conducting focused outreach, and leveraging their current audience as brand ambassadors.

A strategic partnership is a resource-efficient way for NGM to achieve increased endorsed awareness and credibility. According to a recent report, 33% of Canadians want brands to reallocate their marketing spend to COVID-19 related community support. NGM could secure a strategic partner (e.g. Bell, which runs the “Let’s Talk” mental health campaign) to engage a broader base of men and co-run their NGM circle events. NGM could raise their awareness and action their mission by empowering more men to talk about their emotions and concerns; corporate partners will show they’re creating solutions, not sales campaigns.

While NGM secures a strategic partnership, they could conduct surveys or online focus groups to grow their profiled database and identify men’s current attitudes and perceptions. Targeted CRM can help NGM grow their base and better align their services with men’s current needs. NGM can leverage their growing database by encouraging current members to “recruit” friends to virtual events. Encouraging people to become brand advocates could grow NGM’s database for CRM efforts and could decrease the stigma around gender conversations.

Next Gen Men’s mission has never been more relevant. Now is the time to deliver on that mission through increased brand awareness and donation intent.