Unitil 2020 campaign

Virtual Campaign 101 with Unitil

Our corporate partners are the backbone of the work we do.  More than 1000 companies in our area partner with us to help people in need in our community, running workplace fundraising campaigns and volunteer events.  The Employee Campaign Managers, or ECMs, are responsible for managing the many aspects of a workplace campaign.    This post is part of a series of articles designed to celebrate our corporate partners, highlight the amazing work they’re doing, and help ECMs in their role.

For 20 years, Unitil has run a United Way campaign to engage employees in giving back and coming together for a cause they care about. Due to the pandemic and the inability to be together in person, this year’s planning committee had to completely reinvent their campaign – trying a host of new things to see what might work. While they usually hold their campaign each spring, this year with the already skyrocketing need they fast-tracked their campaign and had it up and running for October. We sat down with their 2020 Campaign Chair, Kristen Anderson, to dive into how they’re pivoting their campaign and her top tips on creating your own successful fundraiser. 

Engaging employees in a virtual environment 

For Anderson, the key to a successful virtual campaign is creating engaging and interactive events that will keep employees involved in a virtual format. They’ve run everything from a United Way Bingo where all the employees came together on Zoom to chat and play together to a United Way Spirit Week. 

“It was so wonderful to connect with employees that we’re typically used to seeing on a daily or weekly basis but haven’t seen in months. Everybody was so excited to see each other – there was a lot of chatter before we got started and my eyes filled up because it was so wonderful to see everyone.”

Making sure the events you plan allow your employees to come together and spend time as a community is one of the best ways to get everyone to participate. But what do you do if you have employees who aren’t in front of a computer? Anderson has a solution to that too. To make sure everyone was included, she’s running an additional week of the campaign specifically targeted to employees out in the field to ensure everyone can participate. This will look different for different companies but across the board making sure your campaign is inclusive of everyone is another key to making it successful and reaching your goal.

The platform that makes it possible

In adapting to a virtual world, “Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud (SPC) has been my saving grace,” shared Anderson. In the past, she’s run up to 7 different campaigns at a time to encompass all of the different United Ways they work with. But with SPC she can manage one cohesive campaign all in one easy place. “It’s really streamlined everything,” she shared. It’s great for employees too, providing a user-friendly place where employees can go to get more information on the causes they care about and make donations to support the community. “None of our employees have reported any issues,” she said. In a world where it seems like we’re learning new technology every day, using something simple and well-designed is essential to making sure your employees participate. Going forward, she says they plan to continue using the platform as their community relations hotspot. 

Giving is part of the culture

Anderson wrapped the conversation by sharing what the United Way campaign means to their company culture.  

“We know and feel good that when we support United Way, we’re supporting what our communities need the most and our dollars are helping the most amount of people possible.”

This is thanks in part to a focus throughout the campaign on the past and future impact of employee donations – using everything from SPC stories to videos from the CEO to illustrate the major difference their dollars will make. Interested in more tips and tricks for planning a virtual campaign? Watch the full conversation below!