Brand a cause. Build an army.

Change children’s lives.

The Children’s Center


Sad truth? There aren’t enough foster parents for Detroit youth.

There are more than 14,380 Michigan children living in foster care on any given day. Not only was there a shortage of foster families, no one was leading the charge to ensure the public was fully aware of the shortage. The Children’s Center came to us to help them lead that charge and recruit more foster parents for Detroit youth living in foster care.

A single postcard promoting all programs wasn’t working

The Children’s Center offers an integrated system of care to children and families through 29 different programs. They had been providing foster care services for more than a decade. After conducting an initial brand and communications audit, we learned that The Children’s Center promoted the need for more foster parents via one postcard mailing per year. No social media. No email. No event. No blogging. No community partnerships. No public relations or media. Just one communications channel: direct mail.

The audit also revealed the single postcard also included a listing of the other 28 programs as well. The expectation was the target audience would somehow zero in on the need for more foster parents from that long list of programs on the direct mail. Results were minimal, at best.

Brand and market the cause, and they will come.

To move the needle, we lifted up the dire need for more foster parents by branding the cause: #BEAFOSTERPARENT. We then marketed that cause separately, but in addition to normal marketing activity for the entire agency.

To elevate awareness, we created a multichannel marketing campaign designed to shout loud about the need for more foster parents for Detroit youth. We removed the clutter by creating simple, but powerful and relevant messaging and imagery, and placed the cause front and center for all to clearly and quickly see.

We forged strategic community partnerships to build an army of “cause evangelists” including a highly visible bike ride with Slow Roll Detroit.

Blue Ribbon Event to Celebrate National Foster Care Awareness Month

We launched an annual blue ribbon event inviting staff, board members, volunteers, dignitaries, and the community to tie blue ribbons around trees and light poles along the well-trafficked Woodward Avenue to elevate awareness for the need for more foster parents.

To generate a buzz and raise awareness at the grassroots level, we created and recruited volunteers to distribute yellow stickers (brand colors) within their respective communities. A call-to-action on the sticker asks the bearer to take a selfie wearing the sticker and post it to social media using the hashtag #beafosterparent.

Shared personal stories

We recruited individuals who either grew up in foster care, and served as a foster or adoptive parent, to share their personal stories and experiences to demonstrate to prospective foster parents the life-changing impact they can have on Detroit youth living in foster care.

Partnered with the media to shine a bright light on the need

We leveraged the power of the media to help us increase visibility and extend the reach of the campaign beyond what traditional marketing tactics could ever do.

Custom landing page for prospective foster parents

A custom landing page was created to illustrate the dire need for more foster parents and help educate prospective parents about how to become a licensed foster parent. Answers to frequently asked questions and “myth” busters were also included on the landing page. Read more.

We created a continuous flow of content posted to social media to help educate prospective foster parents about life as a youth in foster care and how to become a foster parent.

How did we do?

The campaign increased the number of inquiries by 111% of which 46% converted into becoming foster parents. It gained five TV stories, six print stories, and two radio interviews in local media. The annual “cause” campaign has also helped to significantly increase the visibility of The Children’s Center brand and position it as “the” place to go when thinking about becoming a foster or adoptive parent.


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