FIRES, FLOODS, HURRICANES—for more than a century, nothing has stopped the American Red Cross from assisting those in need around the country and the world. But, when an organization that prides itself on helping others needs a little help of its own, where does it turn? Luckily for the Red Cross of Gloucester County, N.J., Susan Freiberg, president of Turnersville, New Jersey-based Proforma ABF Direct, was on the case. With an army of tote bags from Mason, Ohio-based Vitronic Promotional Group, and some savvy fundraising skills, Freiberg not only raised awareness of the chapter’s financial situation but she helped them collect enough money to thwart impending closure. Here, she shares with Promo Marketing just how a well-placed promotional product saved the day.
Promo Marketing: How did you come to learn about the impending
closure of your area’s Red Cross branch?
Susan Freiberg: I was president of my Rotary Club and a club member mentioned it to me. I thought it was important that my club knew about it, so I invited the executive director of the Red Cross Gloucester County chapter to come speak to us.
PM: Can you tell me the details of the Red Cross’ initial fundraising effort?
SF: The Red Cross was running a fundraising program called “Heroes.” It was for a giving level of $1,000 or more. They were doing OK at the time, but still nowhere near the $70,000 they needed. After the executive director spoke at our club, I decided that I wanted to help. I didn’t want our community to lose an important institution and service organization.
PM: How did you think a
promotional product could help?
SF: Having been in this industry for nine years now, I understand the power of promotional items. So, I donated 500 tote bags with the Red Cross “Hero” logo and encouraged them to sell the bags for $10. I knew that by selling the bags, it would bring in $5,000 in total donations.
PM: Why did you choose tote bags?
SF: I chose a tote bag because we were approaching summer and many people in this community go to the shore. I thought the tote would make a great beach bag, kids’ camp bag or even a unique book bag.
PM: Can you tell me about the totes’ design and what type of imprinting method was used?
SF: The tote bag featured the Red Cross “Hero” logo screen printed on the front of it.
PM: Where did you get the bags?
SF: The bags were from Vitronic [Promotional Group].
PM: How did you integrate the
promotional totes into the overall fundraising effort?
SF: The executive director took them to all of her speaking engagements and they were displayed in the office on a T-stand with a sign right in front of the doorway at the welcome desk. We also received news coverage of the fundraising in three different newspapers which drew attention to the cause and to the totes.
PM: Overall, would you rate this promotion to be a success?
SF: Yes, because the Red Cross met its fundraising goals and the program brought awareness to the Red Cross’ cause and to the Heroes program. The donation of the bags allowed everyone to take part in helping the Red Cross regardless of financial status. If people couldn’t afford to give $1,000, they could still participate by purchasing a $10 tote bag. Additionally, the donation of a promotional product versus a traditional monetary donation made for a great story which attracted media attention and generated exposure for the selling of the Red Cross tote bags.
PM: For nonprofits on the whole, what are some of the benefits of using promotional products?
SF: Promotional products are a great vehicle for bringing recognition to any event or cause. Once the organization gets the attention of the public or whoever the target audience is, then they have the opportunity to share [its] message. Promotional products can bring excitement to a fundraiser or an event as giveaways. Participants will take the item home and remember the cause every time they use
PM: Would you use a similar marketing strategy for a nonprofit client in the future?
SF: Absolutely! I enjoyed working with the Red Cross to meet their fundraising goals, and I am confident that the strategy would help to raise money for other nonprofit organizations.