The Lighthouse Children and Families

The Lighthouse Children and Families, a Montreal based non-profit organization, contributes to the wellbeing of children afflicted by illnesses requiring complex treatment, and provides respite and support to their families. The Lighthouse welcomes children at Maison André-Gratton, Quebec’s only pediatric palliative care home, offering both respite stays and palliative care. It also offers in-home respite care and a family support program.

Providing services and palliative care to children afflicted by illnesses requiring complex treatment and their families is a noble cause that rallies a great number of people. Over the years, this has resulted in a steady increase in third party requests to raise funds for The Lighthouse. It’s a nice problem to have, although quite unusual. With so many people motivated to raise funds on their behalf these generous hearts relied heavily on The Lighthouse’s internal resources to raise the money.

Our mandate was to find a solution: reduce repetitive administrative tasks, grow participation, increase brand awareness and inspire more people to get involved – and raise more money.

A unique problem requires an original solution

The partnership between The Lighthouse and Phil Communications started over five years ago with a variety of smaller branding and fundraising material needs. The Lighthouse’s Director of Financial Development and Communications, Manon Durocher, knew that the organization was lacking in communications expertise prior to hiring Phil. External fundraising management is a complex and resource-intensive task, and it all used to be done on a volunteer basis. The first step included creating and implementing a proper communications plan (developed by an external team of experts at Phil) and managed through a permanent position within the foundation. The plan outlined the overall strategic goals of the program, the target audiences, the communications channels to be used and a 12-month detailed action plan for execution.

Mme. Durocher understood that structural changes to the foundation’s communications and human resources were needed, but she had reservations as to the speed at which such a program would be implemented given their limited budget. That’s why Phil spread the budgetary, structural and functional changes at The Lighthouse gradually over a two-year development phase culminating in the inauguration of the “UNIS pour Le Phare” (United for the Lighthouse) program.

UNIS pour Le Phare

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The UNIS program aims to allow third parties (individuals or companies) to contribute to The Lighthouse by raising funds independently, using materials provided by the organization. The “UNIS Pour le Phare” toolkit includes fundraising ideas, donation forms and a solicitation template, among other things. However, the most important branding tool is certainly the UNIS star

A simple and affordable concept: a cardboard yellow star on a purple background, die-cut to match the same star in the organization’s logo. All fundraising initiatives invite the participants to write their name or the name of a sick child on a star and to have their photo taken holding the star during their event. This tool doesn’t just serve to motivate participants and tie back to the children they are helping, the photographs also become valuable content for social media. Their shareable nature made this initiative highly successful. In the first year of the UNIS program, many of them have been shared across social media and physically across the globe! People rallied around the concept and its social and creative aspects.

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Collaboration; Execution; Results

The mutual trust established early on between Phil’s team and The Lighthouse ensured the program’s success. The Lighthouse’s open-mindedness allowed us to present unique ideas, including the UNIS microsite with star rating system to grow the external fundraising initiatives on a peer-to-peer level that had far greater reach than the initial events themselves. In comparison, Phil’s respect for the pace at which The Lighthouse was able to implement the ideas and the necessary changes allowed for smooth project development.

The Lighthouse now has an external fundraising management position, ridding itself of the administrative burden of overseeing each independent project year after year. These administrative adjustments, combined with a creative marketing campaign, significantly lightened The Lighthouse’s workload and catapulted the organizations visibility. This in turn allowed for a multiplication of independent fundraising initiatives.

In the first years since the UNIS program’s implementation, the number of external projects has doubled each year, from a dozen to two dozen, to over sixty events last year. The goal for this year is to reach 120 third party events, and they are already well on their way to surpassing their fundraising goals. This year alone they have 27 companies, 19 community groups and 15 individuals who have created fundraising initiatives raising anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands!

Pilot year

Start of marcom plan

Marcom plan implemented

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

33,527.00  $

55,318.00  $

156,511.00  $

Beyond streamlining administrative tasks, the organization has hugely benefitted from the UNIS star’s popularity on social media, increasing traffic to the microsite and enhancing The Lighthouse’s visibility online. Above all, the most satisfying numbers are the number of smiles put on faces of the sick children benefitting from the Lighthouse’s services.