Creating a Pathway to Volunteering
EQWIP HUBs is an innovative joint venture between Canada World Youth and Youth Challenge International that serves a dual mission. The organization recruits volunteers to teach and mentor youth in 6 emerging countries providing them with the business skills and mentorship they need to successfully start entrepreneurial businesses that will lead to employment in their local community. HALO was asked to develop a strategic plan and new brand marketing campaign with the goal of significantly increasing both the number and quality of volunteer applicants from Canada.
Launched in 2015, EQWIP HUBs was having difficulty attracting the right talent for these volunteer positions. The brand was competing in the crowded overseas volunteer category with many competitors – both not-for-profit and for-profit with deeper pockets. Without a unique branding message, the organization was unable to stand out and was getting lost. It was time to turn the tables and become the category leader.
As part of our due diligence, we conducted interviews with organization stakeholders alongside current and recently returned program volunteers. It was the conversations with the volunteers themselves which gave us the game-changing insight. Although the ultimate purpose of EQWIP HUBs is to help youth in the developing world, the ultimate motivation for Canadian volunteers was to grow – personally and professionally. They often felt stuck in a rut with their job search or career and were looking for an experience to open doors and stretch them as a person.
This insight led us to a new brand position based on the unique motivations of the volunteers themselves. EQWIP HUBs takes a collaborative and empowering approach to learning which benefits the teacher as much as the student. They both develop business and job skills at the same time – only in different ways. As a result, the volunteers have a truly unique experience which awakens new capabilities within themselves.
The media recommendation focused on digital, employing our Pathway to Giving methodology to motivate volunteer applications. We developed three target audience personas connected to the interests and motivations unearthed in our stakeholder interviews. The personas formed the basis of online hyper-targeting tactics to reach the right audience at the right time and place.
The new campaign called “The Experience of a Lifetime. Yours.” launched in early September. It connects the two equally important sides of international volunteering motivations: the life-changing experience and the development of career-relevant skills.
Early campaign results are showing that EQWIP HUBs is now on track to achieve their aggressive volunteer applications growth goals. The first month of the new campaign delivered close to 20% of the annual target.