United Way partnered with DEG to create its first direct-to-donor campaign, which quickly had to be pivoted to address the COVID-19 pandemic affecting Kansas City.

What do you do when your first direct-to-donor fundraising campaign is set to launch in two weeks, and a pandemic looms on the horizon? You pivot your strategy, messaging, and creative to meet the needs of the community.

The challenge

Since 1918, United Way of Greater Kansas City has assembled service agencies and programs, volunteers and donors to provide a far-reaching network of support for those in need in the Greater Kansas City area. Initially, United Way partnered with DEG to create its first direct-to-donor campaign for raising funds to support its 140 partner agencies and 200+ programs.

As the COVID-19 pandemic grew, DEG and United Way knew the campaign needed to pivot to address the new impact on the lives of Kansas Citians. As DEG got to work doing exactly that, United Way began working with organizations around the metro on a COVID-19 response fund with a $10M goal, supported by KC organizations that pledged to meet donations up to $5M.

More Kansas Citians were affected by the impact of COVID-19 than infected—some losing their jobs, going hungry or without shelter, and needing child or home care. DEG focused on this insight to develop a new campaign strategy, messaging, and creative for United Way.

The strategy

To highlight the impact on the Kansas City community, DEG humanized the issue through micro-stories demonstrating those affected by the pandemic. The messaging strategy focused on making the audience stop scrolling, empowering them to make a difference, driving them to donate, and asking them to share their story and join the social conversation.

Next, DEG developed an integrated, multi-channel strategy encompassing United Way’s digital channels to reach as many donors as possible and raise funds for the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

Following the OneKC day-of-giving event, United Way had raised more than $16M for the fund, surpassing its original $10M goal.

The solution

Over the weekend following the decision to pivot the campaign, DEG produced an entirely new messaging strategy positioning United Way as the critical support to neighbors in need.

DEG’s creative team refined all messaging and designed new creative for the campaign landing page and social posts, developing realistic story angles featuring each group affected by the pandemic: children, parents, business and homeowners, and those with health issues—every Kansas Citian.

Paid social advertising—on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—was the primary channel for communicating with potential donors during the crisis, with organic social content supporting the message. DEG optimized media buys in real time based on ad performance to retarget and keep the campaign top of the newsfeed. The agency’s creative team produced four sets of creative assets to offer variations on the retargeting ads.

DEG also supplied United Way with a social media community management playbook, providing direction to easily communicate with donors as they’re engaging with campaign assets.

Finally, DEG helped United Way advertise the OneKC day-of-giving event, leveraging the four major local news networks to drive Kansas Citians to a unique landing page to support the community. A group of DEG volunteers even jumped on phone calls to help bring in donations as part of the United Way team.

The outcome

United Way of Greater Kansas City and DEG launched the COVID-19 response fund campaign in March 2020, asking Kansas Citians to donate and support their neighbors with the greatest need. Following the OneKC day-of-giving event, United Way had raised more than $16M for the fund, surpassing its original $10M goal.

“Your quick response to the need that we had is an amazing testimony to the true trusted advisor and partner status that DEG has with United Way of Greater Kansas City.” — Mike Goff, Chief Marketing & Development Officer, United Way

Together, United Way and DEG were able to pivot at a moment’s notice, driving support for the community’s most immediate needs.

See More Work

Work With Us

Our approach has empowered local, national, and global brands to grow their businesses and achieve a competitive advantage, and we can do the same for you. Let us show you how we can capitalize on every moment you have with your customers.

Get Started