How to change the world $1 at a time

SIMON DAY
Last updated 05:00 08/12/2013

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Reading a bank statement has taken on a new meaning for some of New Zealand's largest businesses.

Buried in their statements, a line at a time, are coded messages from a charity that works with underprivileged kids.

Each line costs the charity $1 and a series of deposits with different sets of words in the "particulars" column spells a message asking the corporate to think about making a donation to Brothers In Arms, a charity that connects underprivileged kids with mentors.

The guerrilla marketing scheme grew out of New Zealand's "saturated charity market" said BIA manager Wade McMillan.

Although we've been recognised as the second most charitable nation in the world, according to the World Giving Index, we have 25,000 registered charities, which makes it hard for small organisations to find donations.

"New Zealand seems to have a saturated charity market, where heavily resourced not-for-profits with fulltime administrators and fundraisers have the best shot at attaining the corporate dollar," McMillan said.

By using just a few dollars to make deposits, BIA is able to "share our mission and demonstrate the power of corporate small change in the right hands."

The campaign has made 30 deposits of $1 to 20 companies, for a total outlay of $600.

When the companies' accountants go to balance their books, the deposits, and their hidden meaning, jump out they start a conversation with the charity.

Using BIA's limited budget it was about finding a new way to reach as many potential sponsors as possible, said the two men behind the idea.

"For us it is about sneaking in the back door rather than busting down the front door," said Freddie Coltart, a creative at advertising agency Draft FCB.

Charities tired of being cold-called felt compelled to respond to the innovative engagement.

"We knew how difficult it is going through the regular channels. We used that one dollar, that corporate small change, to show that when you give to BIA we use that money in a really powerful meaningful way," said Matt Williams, the second half of the creative team and a BIA mentor.

Every one of the companies who received the deposits have started a conversation with BIA; all of them returned the $30; two have made donations; and others are committed to contributing in 2014.

"We have seen first-hand that if you do something smart and a little different, you don't have to spend the big bucks," McMillan said.

"We want to be able to help as many kids as possible."

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