Lincoln Park Community Services

Social and Video Content

Social and Video Content

The key that unlocked the hearts of donors to help Chicago’s homeless

On any given night, 6,000 Chicagoans have no place to call home. Equally staggering is that more than 50% of all city renters are considered to be extremely low-income households, meaning they earn no more than $19,706 annually. It’s no surprise that every year more than 80,000 locals find themselves or their families homeless.

Lincoln Park Community Services (LPCS) is a non-profit agency that operates in the midst of the homeless crisis helping individuals find – and keep – permanent housing. In addition to food and shelter, LPCS provides job training, substance abuse treatment, mental health services and more. And they work with each guest to ensure they receive the support, respect, and understanding they need to empower their lives and make a permanent change.

After receiving $9 million in grants, LPCS decided to expand its reach and construct a new facility. To make this happen, they needed to raise an additional $4 million through a capital fundraising campaign. They knew they could rely on their donor base to raise most of the money, but they needed help with the last and hardest part. They needed a campaign to inspire small, individual donations from new or infrequent donors totaling $1 million.

In an ever-growing pool of organizations competing for donations, LPCS needed to stand out and demonstrate its point of differentiation in a way that connected with donors on an emotional level.

We decided that the best way to do that was to focus on the impact a single item can make in the life of someone overcoming homelessness: a key. For these individuals, a key isn’t just an everyday object… it’s so much more. When a guest graduates LPCS, they receive the keys to their new place and participate in a “Bell Ringing Ceremony” — holding up their keys and ringing a bell in celebration. LPCS also adds their name and the date they received their keys to one of their walls. Marking a permanent memory. This campaign was LPCS seeking keys to their new home, too.

The result was “The Key” – a story told in the form of a video about an often-overlooked item. A key opens more than just a door. It represents freedom, accomplishment, recovery, hope and life itself. The key concept also allowed us celebrate the Bell Ringing Ceremony which we knew was a natural way to show LPCS’ traditions and emphasize its point of difference. The work featured authentic personal stories of triumph and showed how getting your keys means getting a new lease on life.

Long form content was used at fundraising events and shorter videos were shared on social media channels. We also partnered with our digital transformation team to design banners and donate media to drive traffic to our content and encourage donations.

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