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Rob Penner, President & CEO
June 30, 2015

CASE STUDY: The Anatomy of a Corporate Fundraising Campaign

Bison Transport employees at Challenge for Life walk

Bison Transport raised $100,153 for CancerCare Manitoba Foundation’s 2015 Challenge for Life (CFL). This is the third time Bison has earned the top spot in the Corporate Teams category. Over the past 6 years we have raised over $519,790 for Challenge For Life! Bison is truly a caring organization and we are proud of our people.

The purpose of sharing this case study is to help other corporations in their own fundraising efforts.

Here are the 2015 stats:

57 walkers

$100,153 raised

$20,000 contributed by Bison

$1,757 average raised per walker

The Background:

“Bison Cares…because we are people driven” isn’t just our mantra, it is a philosophy that permeates every aspect of Bison. It affects how we treat our people, our customers, our suppliers and our community.

In 2014, we created a program called Bison Cares and its main objective was to streamline our major fundraising initiatives. Bison Cares runs in the spring and fall and these two campaigns have proven to be very successful. Although there are many charities to support, our Bison Cares program focuses on causes that are near and dear to the people at Bison. Cancer affects many Canadians, which is why Bison chose Challenge for Life as one of the seven charities for our Bison Cares spring campaign.

The Strategy:

Going into 2015, we had built a lot of recognition and excitement around the CFL campaign.

  • Goal Setting
    • We set a goal of recruiting 50 walkers and raising $85,000.
    • Lisa McFarland, Executive Assistant, took the lead and kept our team organized, inspired and focused on our goal. Having someone champion the campaign is important in reaching goals.
  • Communication:
    • Pre-Launch: We knew the easiest way to increase donations was to increase participants, so we took a two pronged approach. First, we focused on raising awareness and then we moved into recruitment.
    • Campaign Kick-Off: We kicked-off the campaign with a celebration of our previous years fundraising efforts, but, also ran info sessions to educate, inspire and recruit additional walkers. By communicating through our internal newsletter The Bison Trail, social media, Corporate Announcements and the intranet, we were able to reach more employees with our message.

      Remove Barriers:
    1. Our Systems team developed a process to donate through payroll deduction. This made the CFL very easy to support. Our intranet also enabled staff to see the funds that were donated in real time.
    2. To make it easier for people to join the CFL team, Bison, our CEO and our Chairman, collectively contributed the first $450 to each walker. Group fundraising was also shared and worked out to be approximately $700 per person! Removing barriers really helped add more feet to the street. At the end of the day, since there was financial assistance in the early stages, most walkers raised much more than the $1,000 minimum.

      Bison Transport employees at Challenge for Life walk Bison CFL Team Members
  • Fundraising Initiatives:

    1. We held our CFL BBQ in our Winnipeg Maintenance facility. This year we had over 500 attendees which included staff, suppliers, customers and even a magician. We had a 50/50 draw, silent auction prizes and raised over $10,000.
    2. Pie Your Manager is one of the highlights of the CFL campaign. People donated anywhere from $10 to $500 for the ability to treat their manager to a pie in the face.

      Employee throwing pie at managers face Action shot from the Pie Your Manager event
    3. We ran a contest to win a ‘Paid Day Off’. This was our first time but it was a huge success and it raised $1,490!
    4. Many individuals ran many smaller initiatives such as selling baked goods, and auctioning gift cards or sports tickets. These individual initiatives increase engagement and awareness.

We had an emotional finish to our CFL campaign. Darren Cosentino, Director of Business Development, has been battling cancer for the past four years. He has been instrumental in Bison’s growth since 2000. Darren jumped into action and raised $9,371 in the 17 hours leading up to the walk!

I have learned over the years that people love to be part of something special. They love to be inspired and make a difference in their community. Rather than just writing a cheque, this event brings people together. Challenge for Life is an apt name as walking 20 km and raising $1000 is definitely a challenge. CFL’s slogan “Raising serious money for a serious cause" struck a chord with Bison for many reasons. I encourage you to find a way for your organization to make a connection with a specific initiative. Take steps to engage your team, support their efforts and let them run with their ideas.

Do you have creative fundraising ideas to share? Please comment below.

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