United Way Mended Lives

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  • This moving United Way Mended Lives advertising campaign reminds us that our donations touch real people and mend real lives. Launching in a time of donation fatigue and rising cynicism about charitable giving, the campaign became one of the most effective advertisings campaigns ever to run in Toronto. It helped the United Way break all its fund-raising records four years in a row. It also won numerous awards and a tremendous amount of media attention.

    In 2003, three years after it launched, the United Way Mended Lives campaign earned a Cassie for sustained effectiveness. It had raised some $220 million dollars in that time.

    With the exception of the first year, all the television spots were directed by Oscar-nominee Deepa Mehta, of Midnight’s Children fame. The print and outdoor advertising featured stunning portraits of real people (shot by Canada’s foremost portrait photographer, Nigel Dickson) that had been ripped up and were now pieced together again, like their own lives. In real handwriting, they told their own stories, in their own words, stories that ended with a simple sentence. “Thank you. Your money got to me.”

  • Mobius Awards 2000. In 2003, after three years of record-breaking fundraising, three years after it launched, the campaign won a prestigious Cassie award for its sustained effectiveness.

  • The campaign was covered in Strategy, Adnews and Playback magazine.

  • In years dominated by compassion fatigue, United Way was the only of the top three charitable organizations that did not show a decline in donations. For each year of the campaign, United Way fundraising broke all previous records - a result directly attributed to the advertising by campaign tracking studies. In one remarkable story, a couple walked into the United Way’s offices with a $100,000 donation as a direct result of the campaign ads. You can read all about the amazing results in the official Cassies crossover case study document here.