Deserving Causes


Though often under the radar, there is no end to the work of nonprofits

Don’t you wish every campaign you produce for clients could have the unparalleled success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

The viral phenomenon had people all over the globe dumping buckets of ice water on their heads and then challenging others to do the same. After the initiative launched in the summer of 2014, it was covered by all major news outlets, co-opted by celebrities and spoofed repeatedly. To date, it has brought in more than $220 million to help raise awareness and find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease.

However, for every knock-your-socks-off campaign such as the ice bucket challenge, there are hundreds of thousands of other worthwhile causes that also deserve attention and support. The U.S. has more than 1.5 million tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. And all of these depend on awareness, engagement and monetary support to accomplish their missions.

Additionally, funding and awareness needs don’t disappear after a successful promotion. Associations and nonprofits need support year after year. But donor retention rates average slightly less than 30 percent after the first year of giving, according to research from Blackbaud, a fundraising-software company.

Following are three PPAI Pyramid Award-winning ways promotional consultants have helped nonprofit clients rise above the noise and advance their causes with promotional products.


The Paint Project
Pedicure essentials helped a nonprofit lung cancer support and research foundation promote its cause. For a $25 donation, supporters received nail polish and file kits, and were encouraged to paint their toes creatively and post photos on social media. The campaign, created by Silicon Valley Specialties, an affiliate of Wayland, Massachusetts-based distributor iPROMOTEu (UPIC: IPRO9320), was featured on an NBC affiliate station and picked up by the BlogHer network, CNN and The Huffington Post. It raised approximately $15,000.


The Crime Wave
With crime rates rising, a local chapter of Crime Stoppers USA reached out to community members to share its mission, hoping this would increase the number of criminal cases solved. Birmingham, Alabama-based distributor Concepts & Associates (UPIC: 6971) helped them select assorted icebreaker items, such as pens, caps, magnets and lip balm, at neighborhood meetings. The products were selected to appeal to all age groups, and each was imprinted with the chapter’s logo and phone number. After the products were distributed, the number of solved crimes increased 45 percent over the prior year.


The Spotlight
A professional trade association used promotional products to boost the number of nominations for its annual awards program. During trade shows held throughout the year, gift sets were made available to those who took the time to nominate their colleagues for recognition. Geiger O’Cain, an affiliate of Lewiston, Maine-based distributor Geiger (UPIC: geiger), provided the gift sets, which included an eyeglass case and sunglasses, which were given out at the association’s trade show. Those who submitted nominations were given decals to advertise what they had done, and their names were entered into a grand-prize drawing. With the help of the campaign, nominations increased from seven the year before to 53—surpassing the goal by 76 percent.

Draw more inspiration for nonprofit promotions by subscribing to PPAI’s IDEA Source archive of past PPAI award winners. Find it at

Got A Winner?

If you’ve created a promotion you think might be a contender for a PPAI Pyramid Award, enter it by the deadline of July 10. The award recognizes the outstanding, creative use of promotional products by distributor members in a variety of client programs and campaigns. You can’t win if you don’t enter. Get the details now at

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