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Why is this work relevant for Direct?

Despite SickKids’s success over the past in achieving record levels of donations, the challenge of acquiring new donors outside of our core older female base remained.

We needed to recruit the entire city of Toronto if we were to build a new hospital. With a target this broad, we couldn’t resonate with everyone in the same way.

We divided the city into 43 different “crews” by grouping people together based on factors such as their daily habits, lifestyles, sports fandom, careers, pet preferences, and much more. We then targeted each crew with tailored and contextual messages to join our fight.

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Health & Wellness work must demonstrate how it meets the criteria 'life-changing creativity'. Why is your work relevant for Health & Wellness?

SickKids is a children’s hospital in Toronto, known around the world as leaders in research and treatment. But their aging facilities must be rebuilt to treat the growing number of children who need them. Our campaign helped raise crucial funds to begin construction of the new hospital.


2018 was our most ambitious fundraising year yet - year two of the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian healthcare history, $1.3 billion over 10 years. We needed to drive significant donations and get potential new donors off the sidelines to help us build a new SickKids hospital.

For our annual integrated campaign, we focused our efforts on sub-cultures within the city of Toronto from runners to bankers to barbers and more to join the fight. We used influencers, social channels, online, 1:1 and contextual OOH to rally people together and pledge their support for SickKids.

Describe the creative idea

Our idea was informed by recognizing that donors in Toronto are diverse: they come from various backgrounds and have a multitude of interests, lifestyles, and professions. In many instances, they are not just individual donors but fundraise with others. They are often members of clubs, teams, people with shared interests and/or causes to multiply they impact. Instead of seeing this as a barrier to how we talk to potential donors, we used it in our favor by organizing them into groups or “crews”.

“Crews” rallied people together based on many different factors such as their daily habits, lifestyles, sports fandom, careers, pet preferences, and much more. We identified forty-three different crews, each targeted with tailored and contextual messages, asking them to rally behind one cause: a new SickKids.

Describe the strategy

We needed to move beyond our core older female donors and get new groups of donors to join SickKids to help us to build a new hospital. This meant a broad target, anybody in the Greater Toronto Area who is not an existing monthly donor (9 out of 10 adults).

We knew that donors were already organically organizing themselves into groups to multiply their impact. This inspired us to think about our target differently. Instead of looking at them as a homogenous demographic or even psychographic profile we sought to divide them into dozens of “subcultures” giving SickKids natural rally points to inform their message, “join your crew”.

Extensive research on Toronto’s diverse culture informed the different types of “crews” used in the campaign - groups that Torontonians can authentically self-identify with. From there, we created different creative executions and messages for each augmented by contextual media placements.

Describe the execution

The three month campaign’s message was simple and uncomplicated. The main call to action was “join your crew”.

To ensure our communications resonated with our diverse targets and to maximize impact, we relied heavily on hyper-targeting and tailored communications speaking specifically to the unique characteristics of each targeted crew. Placements in Toronto’s Billy Bishop airport featured the “Frequent Flyers”, while placements in the city’s financial district featured the “Suits”, we featured the “Ballers” in Scotiabank Centre, the home of the Toronto Raptors. This approach allowed us to leverage data and personalize our campaign message to match potential donors’ interests.

Once people donated they could join one of forty-three crews and then rally friends and family to join them. To drive additional engagement, we created unique illustrated badges to both identify and differentiate each crew. We built a dashboard to show how recruitment for each crew was going.

List the results

This campaign continues (and even beats) the incredible success SickKids has seen to date:

• Raised $48,354,389 in 90 days

- $10 million more than the same period last year

• Generated 155,268 new donors

- 19% gain vs. the previous year

• 53% increase in monthly donors since launch delivering a LTV (lifetime value) of $15.9


• Generated $1.4 million in on-line donations

- 10% lift vs. the previous year

• Social content generated an incredible 11,743,040 impressions

- Just under 3X the campaign’s in-going target or 161% lift over goal

- 44% of donors who joined a crew also purchased merchandise to show support of

their crew

- Email engagement with our existing monthly donors increased by an incredible 88%

during the campaign

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