On Saturday, December 20th, 2014, we celebrated the 119TH Doll & Toy Fund at the annual Gift Giving Event at Delgado Community College. This year we welcomed Liberty Bank as our presenting sponsor. With their help, and with the help of countless donors, the Christmas-spirited nonprofit experienced a 23% increase in individual donations year over year.

Historically, we receive the bulk of our donations by placing an addressed and stamped envelope in two editions of The Times-Picayune preceding the Gift Giving Event and the holiday season. However, over the past couple of years, we have been incorporating more and more digital touch points to appeal to a broader and more diverse audience. Although our digital fundraising methods are not entirely unique or groundbreaking in relation to the current state of fundraising in the US, we find that using the right mix of print advertising, digital display advertising, and social media marketing methods can certainly have a profound effect on a 119-year-old tradition of giving to children in need in the Greater New Orleans area.

Because NOLA Media Group has a 177-year-old newspaper and a website with more traffic than any other in the region, we have the ability to harness our resources to produce highly effective results regardless of the strategies we deploy to raise money each year. However, as we continue to roll out new products and digital solutions, the challenge is to find the right mix of products and solutions to fully optimize the results of our fundraising campaign.

Times-Picayune Doll & Toy Fund adPut a spin on the tried & true with a fresh look.
Not only did we add many dynamic features to our fundraising campaign, we also mixed up the images and layout of the advertisements in print, digital, and social to give the look and feel of the campaign a fresh and up-to-date appeal. In our print and digital ads, we selected and incorporated new photos that people of all ages, races, and backgrounds could relate to and modified the ad copy to increase call-to-action.

Incorporate a strong and dynamic social media marketing mix.
Other than strategic placement of the print and digital ads we ran, we incorporated a new and dynamic mix of social media that we have never done for the Times-Picayune Doll & Toy Fund in the past. Firstly, we created a widget on our Facebook page that directed users and followers directly to the charity’s website, www.tpdollandtoyfund.org, and strategically placed the widget so it appeared front-and-center on the Times-Picayune Doll & Toy Fund Facebook Page. On Facebook, we also posted regularly to the D&T Fund Page, and also leveraged the vast following of many of our other Facebook pages to generate online donations via social media. We incorporated Twitter and Instagram by sharing updates and photos to further engage a broader audience online.

For the first time ever, we created a video in the newsroom’s recording studio with the presenting sponsor’s President and the charity’s Chairman to promote the 119TH Times-Picayune Doll & Toy Fund, presented by Liberty Bank. We seeded the video through a variety of social media channels including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to encourage views, sharing, and engagement.

Show the community where and how the dollars are spent.
Times-Picayune Doll & Toy Fund-2Finally, we posted photos to a variety of social media channels in real time to show people where and how their donation dollars were being spent. Throughout the month of December, and primarily throughout the week leading up to the gift-giving event, we shared photos of children receiving their special gifts at past gift-giving events. Since the Times-Picayune Doll & Toy Fund is a 119-year-old tradition, we could really go back in time to show people how long this nonprofit organization has been making a difference, and how the tradition of giving to children in need during the Christmas season has such a positive effect on the community. On the Friday preceding the gift-giving event, we shared photos of the toys being unloaded from big trucks and of volunteers preparing Delgado Community College for families to

By incorporating a dynamic mix of print, digital, and social media promotion, we didn’t necessarily change the nature of how people traditionally give to the Times-Picayune Doll & Toy Fund; however, we successfully enhanced our approach and added more rich content surrounding the cause that we look forward to building upon more and more for years to come.