From PSAs to Twitch, Feeding America tries to make non-profit marketing stand out
When Catherine Davis joined the largest U.S. hunger-relief organization, Feeding America, she was struck by the reactions people had to the issue.
“I thought: OK, so everybody is going to want to help people that are hungry, and in fact, that’s not true,” says Davis, the non-profit’s chief marketing and communications officer. “People have a lot of biases.”
Davis has used her background on the corporate side, both at agencies including Leo Burnett and marketers such as Diageo, to get the issue of hunger on the minds of more people, using everything from traditional TV public service announcements to charity events on live-streaming gaming site Twitch. Feeding America is also starting to work on more purpose-driven programs for marketers as cause-driven marketing is gaining attention.
On the latest episode of Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief podcast, Davis discusses moving from corporate life to the non-profit world and her desire to see more innovation in marketing.
As brand marketers are busy making decisions about buying TV spots during the upfronts, Davis says getting air time to run public service announcements has gotten much more difficult. “They tend to pick up our spots pretty readily, but if there is less inventory and less time, then everyone's share is going to go down,” says Davis, who joined Feeding America in 2016.
With a staff member now devoted to new platform development (Aaron LaMonica-Weier got the title of digital platform manager last year), Feeding America is finding fresh places to get its message across. The organization allocates about 10 percent of its marketing toward new platforms and technology such as Twitch, says Davis. Along with helping the organization reach a younger audience, as Davis notes, “the mechanisms to donate money are fundamentally built into those systems.” She says that already about 50 percent of Feeding America’s revenue comes from digital channels.
Feeding America, with help from Google, also introduced MealConnect, a way to connect smaller providers of food with local food banks and others who need it. And it is looking into making online ordering available for people including seniors for whom it is difficult to stand in line for food and carry it home.
“We have this amazingly big issue to solve, and I think innovation is the way to do it,” says Davis.