This past Sunday, I ran into some friendly Red Cross Hero volunteers along the streets in my neighborhood…and downtown…and in other neighborhoods. I must say, the presence was quite impressive.

I’ll typically stop to listen to the spiel of anyone on the street as long as they look decent, others aren’t furiously running away and they appear to be representing a cause or issue of interest. I’ve always been impressed with the Red Cross’ outreach efforts and thus decided to lend an ear – three different times on Sunday. No, I wasn’t obsessively donating to hedge some guilt from the way too expensive music show poster I had bought earlier in the day (worth every penny…btw) but rather was quite curious about the fundraising approach of each individual volunteer.

On all three occasions, I was most impressed to hear each of the volunteers immediately dive into telling a local Red Cross story within thirty seconds of stopping me. Blast the chit-chat, it was game on across the board. Throughout the day I heard about Trudy, Trish and Jacob – all Seattle residents around my age who helped save or dramatically improve the lives of others. Everyday heroes.

It seems simple but as with any good public relations approach, I was most impressed with the consistent approach using a strong narrative arch followed by key message summation and a logical call to action. More often than not, street fundraising efforts can come off as directionless pleas or borderline irrelevant begging. The Red Cross is doing it right. Start with a tailored story. Make me care.

Another Step Up?

Unfortunately, the Red Cross volunteers fell short when they finally got to their pitch and presented me with a long, intimidating donation form. I completely understand the reasoning but being a digital native, the following idea immediately popped into my head. For those on the street that have limited time to chat with volunteers, could the Red Cross not synch up some text-to-donate or QR code scan action along with their storytelling efforts?

Upon further research, I was ecstatic to see that the Red Cross Seattle YouTube channel houses a collection of short videos that focus on their Heroes. Here’s a great example:

I can easily envision an American Red Cross branded biz card that features a photo of one of their heroes along with a call-to-action and QR code similar to the sample below. Instructions for the QR code could be placed on the back of the card and a user scan could drop a user onto a tailored landing page or even a custom Facebook tab to deepen engagement.

Possibilities are endless for application with the QR code but the key point here is it appears to be a low-cost solution for engaging more potential street donors, simplifying the donation process, deepening brand engagement and extending the life of the donor solicitation efforts beyond having to have physical presence on the streets.

The end result? More everyday heroes.

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Nonprofits, Social Media


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