Communications Plan

:
Fundraising & Awareness for
Opening Hearts Charity
Prepared by: Mohawk PR Team for Opening Hearts
Prepared for: Professor Robert Plant and Randy Bassett
Date: December 10, 2015

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Executive Summary:
Opening Hearts is a Hamilton charity that focuses on families with children with special
needs. Built around care, Opening Hearts provides support for families dealing with the
challenges that can arise when caring for children with special needs. Two main ways they
accomplish this is through the ‘Heart Totes’ and ‘SibShops’ programs. Heart Totes are special
gift bags given to families who are having an extended stay in a children’s hospital. Filled
with toiletries, gift cards and other important items that help make the stay a little easier.
Sibshops are special workshops for siblings of children with special needs. It is a way for
siblings to interact with other children who are in similar situations, and to work through their
feelings together.
Our goal for the fundraiser was to raise $1,000 to support these two programs. However, as
Opening Hearts is still a fairly new organization, we also aimed to raise awareness locally by
achieving one positive media story. In order to carry out our plan, we chose three different
fundraising events that would create awareness and generate funds.
The first fundraiser our team held was a grocery bagging event at Fortinos on November 28,
2015, where we interacted with customers while bagging their groceries. We handed out
postcards with information, while collecting donations. In addition, a media release was sent
out for this event to generate buzz and attract more customers to Fortinos.
For our second event, we partnered with St. John Paul II Elementary School for a Civvies
Day on December 7, 2015. Participating students donated over two dollars each to support
Opening Hearts and were able to wear ‘civilian’ clothes for the day.
Finally, our team created a GoFundMe page where donors could read about the organization,
its programs and make an online donation. It was promoted through social media via each
team members’ personal accounts, as well as through Opening Hearts’ accounts in order to
reach a larger and more diverse audience.
Upon completion, the success of our fundraiser was evaluated. With regards to raising
awareness, we surpassed our goal by gaining three positive media impressions. We also
exceeded our fundraising target of $1,000 by generating a total of $1,723.41 for Opening
Hearts’ SibShops and Heart Totes programs.
Situation:
Opening Hearts is a charitable organization located in Hamilton, Ontario. The focus of this
organization is working with families who have children with special needs. Currently, they
have two programs within the organization to help support these families.
Heart Totes: Special bags given to families in children’s hospitals during extended stays.

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Contents can include: toiletries, gift cards, books etc. The purpose is to make the family’s
stay a little easier.
Sib Shops: These are workshops for the siblings of children with special needs. They focus on
creating a fun, and safe environment where siblings can express their feelings and meet other
children in the same situation as them.
As a fairly new organization, many people within the community are unaware of the services
Opening Hearts provides. In turn, this means that funding and awareness are ongoing
challenges, and the charity’s biggest need.
Budget:
Since our fundraiser relied on using Fortinos and St. John Paul II Elementary School to
collect donations, our budget went entirely to raising awareness and making ourselves present
at the events. For Fortinos, shirts, donations jars, along with postcards and posters were
needed. For the Civvies Day at the school, only flyers were needed. Our team estimated no
more than $100 would be used, however this figure was greatly underestimated. The shirts
alone cost almost $300 to be printed and while this figure triples our initial cost, it is an
investment for Opening Hearts. The shirts and donation jars, will be able to be reused for
future fundraising events.
Below is a breakdown of the fundraising costs:
Shirts: $273.07
Jars: $39.55
Printing: $10.40
The postcards we used were ones Opening Hearts already had printed, which allowed us to
save money. Randy Bassett’s team at Opening Hearts graciously donated all the money that
was spent for the fundraiser.
SWOT Analysis:
Strengths:

Weaknesses:

Strong focus on helping families and
children in difficult situations
Good public image
Good cause for community by providing
support to children
Heart Totes and SibShops programs are well
established and have proven to yield
positive results

Not well recognized outside of Hamilton
area
Area constrictions for events
Low budget
Low staff
Dependent partially on volunteers

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Opportunities

Threats:

To raise profits in order to help families in
need
Brand the organization’s image
Promote and gain public and media attention
Raise awareness of the services offered by
the charity

Risk of non-cooperation from local
organizations (i.e. fundraising opportunities)
Risk of non-cooperation from Hamilton
public (i.e. lack of interest)
Donor fatigue

Objectives:

1. To increase awareness of Opening Hearts within Hamilton by
securing one positive media story by December 10, 2015.
2.

-

Acquire $1,000 worth of donations for Opening Hearts by December
10, 2015.

Audiences:
- Canadian parents with children that have special needs/disabilities
Canadian educators and healthcare professionals
Canadian siblings of children with special needs/disabilities
Hamilton media; print and broadcast
Hamilton public (families/parents) - ages 25-80
Fortinos shoppers
St. John Paul II Elementary School students
St. John Paul II Elementary School student’s parents
Which audience are you focusing on?
For this particular plan we are focusing on the Fortinos shoppers and St. John Paul II
students/parents. Since Opening Hearts is a family-centered charity, this plan will hopefully
appeal to parents through empathy. It is also the case that Mr. Bassett’s two children attend
St. John Paul II Elementary School. Furthermore, Limeridge Fortinos is one of the busiest
grocery locations in the GTHA. A lot of different people pass through this store, each with
their own story. We are reaching a large demographic of Hamilton by choosing these
locations.

Key Messages:

Opening Hearts is a local charity that focuses on helping families with
children with special needs.
We are Mohawk College students trying to raise funds for Opening
Hearts. It is a local charity that helps children with special needs and
their families.

Strategies:

1. Launch an informational campaign to raise the awareness of
Opening Hearts among Hamilton residents.

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2. Develop fundraising initiatives to help raise money for Opening
Hearts.
TACTICS
For Strategy #1 – Launch an informational campaign to raise the awareness of Opening
Hearts among Hamilton residents.
1.

Write a news release for Hamilton print/online and radio media.

● In this news release we will use our angle as Mohawk College students helping a local
charity. Furthermore, we will write about the use of our PR skills in a real situation, while a
local charity benefits from our efforts.
● A grocery bagging fundraiser is not newsworthy, so we will use the renown of Mohawk
College to gain media attention.
● At the end of the news release, we will mention the grocery bagging fundraiser date/time in
hopes that Hamilton residents will attend.
● Jenna will create a media list with relevant journalists and twitter ‘influencers’ throughout
Hamilton.
2. Create an information sheet for a Civvies Day at a Hamilton Catholic elementary
school.
● Alana will design a graphic information sheet for the Civvies Day.
● This sheet will contain information about the charity, such as “All monetary donations are
greatly appreciated,” and “Opening Hearts is a local charity that focuses on helping families
with children with special needs.”
● The sheet will be handed out to donors to bring home to their families.
● The charity insisted that previous Civvies Days (the co-founders children attend a Hamilton
Catholic Elementary school) consisted of uninformed donations. This sheet will detail what
the charity offers, and what the students actually are donating to.
3. Place information cards in customers’ grocery bags to help raise awareness for
the charity.
● This tactic will allow Fortinos customers that did not donate to learn more about the charity
and possibly donate in the future. Also, to customers that did donate, what exactly their
money went towards.
● The information cards also increase exposure through word of mouth. The information cards
act as a talking point. If a Fortinos customer knows of a family with children with special
needs, then they can point them towards Opening Hearts.
● Information cards will be provided by the charity.

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4. Raise awareness via social media like Facebook and Twitter prior, during and
after the grocery bagging fundraiser.
● We will create a charity-approved list of Facebook and Twitter posts to make sure it is the
client’s message that is being broadcasted.
● Everyone in the group on their personal social media will use hashtags like #OpeningHearts
and #HamOnt to push people to the charity’s website. Opening Hearts’ social media accounts
on Facebook and Twitter will repost/retweet these to over 1,000 followers.
● Opening Hearts will always be tagged in Twitter and Facebook posts to allow for people
interested in the charity to visit their website/social media accounts.
For Strategy #2 - Develop fundraising initiatives to help raise money for Opening Hearts.
5. Hold a grocery bagging fundraiser at Limeridge Fortinos.
● All team members will wear Opening Hearts branded shirts with web/social media links
displayed on the front and back.
● The information cards developed in Tactic #3 will be placed in customers’ grocery bags.
● Each of the 13 group members will be at different checkout lanes, bagging groceries for
donations.
● Randy Bassett, co-founder of Opening Hearts, will be at a separate information booth.
Donations can be collected here as well.
● Glass donation jars will be decorated red with the Opening Hearts logo on the front. Each
group member will have a donation jar at their checkout.
● A key message has been developed to say to each customer as they pay for their groceries.
“We are Mohawk College students trying to raise funds for Opening Hearts. It is a local
charity that helps children with special needs and their families.”
6. Have a Civvies Day at a Hamilton Catholic school to raise funds.
● Most Catholic schools within Hamilton hold Civvies Days a few times a year. Since the
Catholic schools require that students wear uniforms, the Civvies Day allows students to wear
‘civilian’ clothes if they donate over $2 to the selected charity.
● We will contact 2 Hamilton Catholic elementary schools and 6 Hamilton Catholic high
schools. Ask them if Opening Hearts can be the Civvies Day charity.
● The information sheet outlined in Tactic #2 will be given out to donors to bring back to their
families.
7. Set up and maintain a GoFundMe page to house supplementary donations.
● James will create and maintain the GoFundMe page to give donors an online alternative.
● Potential donors will be directed to this page if they are unable to make a physical donation at
the time.
● Social media posts before and after the event will direct viewers to this page.
● This page will contain information about the charity and what they offer to families and
children with special needs.

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Critical Path:
October 14th – First group meeting/brainstorming session.
October 20th – Second group meeting: ideas prepared for presentation to client, work roles
assigned.
- Project Managers
 Sarah Stenabaugh
 Brett Leslie
 Delia Loveless
 Simone Mekli
- Communications Plan Team
 Angelica Tarli
 Alena Kondratieva
 Brett Leslie
 Matthew Barker
- Media/Social Media Team
 Alana Lewis
 Brittany Collard
 Rachel Jones
 Jessica Cabral
 James Collura
 Sarah Stenabaugh
 Jenna Van Klaveren
- Main Event Logistics Team
 Delia Loveless
 Alana Lewis
 Rachel Jones
 Brittany Collard
- Civvies Day Team
 Angelica Tarli
 Simone Mekli
- Presentation Team
 Matthew Barker
 Delia Loveless
 Brett Leslie
 Alena Kondratieva
 Jessica Cabral
- GoFundMe Page Team
 James Collura
 Jenna Van Klaveren

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October 22nd – First client presentation/meeting: pitch ideas to Randy, have him rank our
ideas based on interest. Find out what is and is not possible to achieve.
October 23rd – October 31st – Make phone calls and emails to arrange events, begin drafting
social media content.
November 1st – Have at least one event/idea in motion and confirmed by all parties.
November 3rd – Third group meeting: progress check on assignment related work, fine tuning
on social media content and relevant client related information. Creation of the GoFundMe
page.
November 10th – Third client meeting: Client approvals, and obtain permission to start
tweeting, make arrangements for events.
November 12th – Fourth group meeting: begin preparing materials for events.
November 20th – All assignment related work complete.
November 24th – Fifth group/client meeting: progress check, go over logistics for main event.
Shirts and cards printed and distributed to team members. Media release distributed to local
print, radio, T.V and online journalists.
November 28th – (Main Event) - Grocery Bagging Fundraiser at Limeridge Fortinos.
December 7th – Civvies Day at St. John Paul II Elementary School.
December 8th – December 16th – Presentation preparation.
December 17th – In class presentation, all social media content posted, all fundraising
complete.
Evaluation:
News release - will be evaluated to determine:



How many media outlets published and ran the story?
Hamilton News (Online), KX 94.7 (Radio), CFMU-FM (Radio)
Was the coverage positive or negative?
Over 20 Fortinos customers said they heard about us through the media.
Information Sheet for Civvies Day - will be evaluated to determine:

● How many were given out?

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○ 94
Information Cards in Customers’ Groceries - will be evaluated to determine:
● How many were given out?
○ Over 400 information cards were put in customers’ grocery bags.
Social Media Awareness via Facebook and Twitter - will be evaluated to determine:
● How many likes, posts, reposts/retweets, and shares were spread on social media during the
Fortinos fundraising event?
○ Posts on Facebook: 34
○ Posts on Twitter: 41
○ Reposts/Shares on Facebook: 7
○ Retweets on Twitter: 46
○ Likes on Facebook: 78
○ Likes on Twitter: 71
○ Total Interactions: 277
Grocery Bagging Fundraiser at Limeridge Fortinos - will be evaluated to determine:



How much money was raised through this event?
$1162.91
How many cash registers were used for bagging fundraiser?
All 13 cash registers were utilized.
Civvies Day - will be evaluated to determine:







How many schools chose Opening Hearts as the charity for a Civvies Day?
St. John Paul II Elementary School
How much money was raised through this event?
$188.55
How many students donated?
94
There was a ripple effect due to our efforts with the Civvies Day event. The principal at St.
John Paul II is running a raffle for Maple Leaf tickets with the proceeds going to Opening
Hearts ($400-500). Another group within the school had a bake sale and they are donating
these proceeds to Opening Hearts. The awareness of Opening Hearts and what they provide
has risen considerably with the Civvies Day event.
GoFundMe Page - will be evaluated to determine:




How many people donated?
19
How much money was raised through the online donations?
$410 ($371.95 after GoFundMe deduction)

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Total amount donated to Opening Hearts through these initiatives:
$1,723.41