Compared to businesses, charities have it tough.

They have missions that are arguably more important than any corporate board room, but usually lack the economics to have their missions be realized.

The quality of marketing & branding are usually the two organizational items that are sacrificed due to a lack of resources.

This is counter intuitive for two reasons. Strong marketing & branding cause two things:

A) Awareness 

And with the right messaging/brand/story-telling:

B) Action

In February, tbk Creative set out to do our part in helping a few charities cause more awareness and action around their causes by overcoming this resource challenge.

We called the contest Canada’s $25,000 Website Charity Challenge and chose Facebook as our platform to execute it using one of our Facebook contest app, Contest King™.

The purpose of the contest was simple: Have charities who need a web and digital makeover submit their noble plea for support. The groups with the most votes would win accordingly.

The prizes were worthwhile:

1. Grand Prize – $25,000 in web design work ($15,000 website, $5,000 mobile website, and $5,000 in social media marketing),

2. Second prize – $5,000 in website work,

3. Third prize – $1,000 in web or social media marketing help.

After 55 honourable nominations and over 4,000 votes, here were the winners:

1) Students Offering Support (SOS) – A Toronto-based charity that has 26 chapters across North American universities that raises funds to build sustainable development projects in Latin America. They do this through student volunteers who teach their peers for donations in exam-prep review sessions on campus. Since 2004, the organization has mobilized over 2,000 students and raised over $700,000 dollars for important projects in Latin America.

2) London Community Resource Centre – A 30-year old London Ontario based organization that focuses on community based programs that address the important issues of food security for our local citizens.

3) Nellie’s Shelter – Started in 1973 and named after one of Canada’s pioneering feminists, Nellie McClung, Nellie’s Shelter is a Toronto based homeless shelter & violence support safe heaven for women and children in need.

The surprise in all of this is that the largest benefit may not have been the $31,000 in tbk Creative in-kind gifts.

In talking with a number of the charities that participated, here are some of the other benefits they shared with me:

“The challenge reinvigorated our supporters.”

“It encouraged us to create structure around a specific goal.”

“We got our head around social media and what we could do with it.”

“It helped us reach those that had not heard of us.”

“It had our supporters feel like they were part of something with us vs. just asking for donations.”

“We started doing news media outreach for the first time. We now know how to do this in the future.”

These intangible benefits that probably touched all 55 groups in some way, just may be the largest gift of all.

Andrew Schiestel is the Chief of WOW! Projects at tbk Creative, a national award winning, London Ontario based web design & social media marketing agency. The company exists to instigate and accelerate consumer action around brands, digitally.

To contact Andrew about speaking at your upcoming web marketing & communications event. To join tbk Creative’s growing Facebook community dedicated to optimizing your digital marketing efforts, click here.