Cossette wins President’s Prize at IPA Effectiveness Awards for SickKids fundraising

Cossette created a new blueprint for 21st Century fundraising for the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

Canadian agency Cossette was awarded the prestigious President’s Prize for Best Contribution to Effectiveness through Technology at the 2020 IPA Effectiveness Awards for creating a new blueprint for 21st Century fundraising for the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). The prize was announced at a virtual awards ceremony this evening (Monday 12 October).

They helped create a brand and help SickKids stand out in a declining charity sector, mobilise donors with positivity and deliver outstanding and sustained success to deliver a 70% increase in donations over four years to close the $300m gap in the largest fundraising initiative in Canadian healthcare history. This was done with the understanding that when Canadian men donate to charity they consistently donate more money and do so more frequently than women. However, they were more inclined to donate to sports and recreational foundations than to children’s causes. SickKids had to stop acting like a charity and start acting like a champion.

SickKids shifted the narrative around sick children from pity to admiration through their VS platform which focused on the fighting spirit and will to win children with severe illnesses possess. VS acted like a premium brand, launching with a prime TV spot during the Toronto Maple Leaf’s season opener, blanketing the city with OOH utilising Canadian celebrities such as Ryan Reynolds as ambassadors.

While the message has evolved over the life of the campaign, including introducing the goal of building a new hospital in Year Two, the focus remained consistent – making Torontonians feel connected to SickKids and believe that they were an integral part of the fight. This is underlined by the interactivity and personalisation of the SickKids website which allowed people to choose the fights that they wanted to rally behind, encouraged competitive fundraising between Toronto’s neighbourhoods, and recruited ‘Crews’ to encourage people to come together and join the fight.

Over four years, communications have driven urgency, stirred hearts and inspired people to join the fight by making audiences feel personally and locally connected and transforming donors into partners. As a result, SickKids is over $100m ahead of their fundraising targets through the first four years of the campaign, increased their total monthly donor base by 26% and created a new blueprint for transforming fundraising in a declining charity sector.

Key results included:

  • Impact on fundraising:
    • VS directly drove $250m in donations, returning $3.89 for every $1 invested at a ROMI of 289%.
    • Over 43,000 items of VS merchandise have been sold, raising an additional $1m in unsolicited income.
    • Share of wallet has risen to 20% - the highest in its competitor set.
  • A stronger brand:
    • Unaided awareness of SickKids rose 8% from 2017 to 2020, increasing the gap to the nearest competitor to 26 percentage points.
    • Unaided identification of the VS symbol grew to 44% after just four years.
    • Increased pride and employee passion amongst the foundation and hospital staff, ensuring that 100% of SickKids Foundation employees are now donors.

Says Nigel Vaz, IPA President and CEO, Publicis Sapient: "SickKids is a truly remarkable story, both in terms of the scale of the challenge and the innovative methods they used to ignite passion in their donor base. Their engagement of the community through Crews, countdowns, personal stories and much more demonstrate the valuable role that technology can play in modern marketing, particularly within the charity sector and are an inspiration to us all. Congratulations to Cossette and SickKids on your incredible success and on winning the President’s Prize for Best Contribution to Effectiveness through Technology."

Says Sue Unerman, Convenor of Judges and Chief Transformation Officer, MediaCom: "Cossette took on a monumental fundraising challenge and have exceeded targets in every area. Their bold approach has transformed how we should think about fundraising in the 21st Century with technology and competition integrated into all areas of the campaign. Congratulations to everyone involved."

The IPA Effectiveness Awards are the world’s most rigorous and prestigious Awards scheme with entrants having to prove the payback of their communications activity. In total five gold, six silver and 14 bronze prizes, along with 10 special prizes, were awarded to companies internationally, including in Australia, Canada, mainland Europe and the UK.

All winning case studies are available to download from the IPA website or from WARC.

The 2020 IPA Effectiveness Awards are sponsored by Facebook, Google, Marsh, Newsworks, System 1, Thinkbox and Warc. The IPA Effectiveness Awards kick off the EffWorks Global 2020 Conference, which will feature an industry leading line-up of marketing effectiveness experts and cultural commentators present a mix of new effectiveness R&D, unique case studies, keynotes, panels and live Q&A’s across four afternoons of content.

Full list of 2020 IPA Effectiveness Awards Winners:

Special Prizes:

Gold winners:

Silver winners:

Bronze winners:

Last updated 13 October 2020