Five Minutes With: Paying It Forward With Promo

Spotlight Sport & Corporate Wear Ltd., a distributor in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, launches a highly successful fundraising campaign to support the families affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018.

PPB  Tell us about Spotlight Sport & Corporate Wear Ltd.’s efforts to raise more than $300,000 to support the families affected following the bus crash on April 6, 2018.

Yager The purpose of the campaign was to provide a Spotlight-sponsored fundraiser to support the devastated families, as well as show Spotlight as a caring, community-minded company. The 50-passenger bus carrying 29 players, coaches and staff to a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) “A” playoff hockey game collided with a semi-tractor trailer along a junction of rural highways. Sixteen members perished while 13 members experienced varying degrees of injuries. The accident was devastating to the families, local area communities and the hockey world in general.

Spotlight’s “We Are Humboldt Strong” shirt fundraising campaign launched on April 7, 2018, within 18 hours of the tragic accident. The campaign was expected to run for approximately three to six days to satisfy local demands to support the team and families financially, and show solidarity by wearing Humboldt Broncos shirts. Due to the overwhelming response, the fundraising campaign was extended and eventually discontinued on April 30, 2018. The initial campaign included t-shirts, and hoodies and jerseys were added, combining the message of “We Are Humboldt Strong” along with the Humboldt Broncos logo and a sponsorship Spotlight logo. The combined messages were imprinted one at a time using in-house DTG printing, and Spotlight sold the apparel, donating $20 from each purchase to the families. The campaign initially started as a Facebook post, along with a store setup from business services firm OrderMyGear; both were linked to Spotlight’s website.

PPB  Initially, Spotlight Sport & Corporate Wear Ltd. projected to raise $10,000 from the t-shirts. How did you increase your projected goal thirty-fold?

Yager Spotlight received an amazing amount of media attention within the first 36 hours of launching the fundraiser, including national TV news (CBC News, Global TV, CTV News, etc.), national sports TV networks (TSN, Spotsnet, etc.) as well as numerous radio stations and newspapers. Eventually the news of what they were doing was also highlighted on some U.S. networks. The initial Facebook post launching the fundraiser also saw a huge amount of traffic (reach, reactions and shares) within the first days of the promotion. After three weeks, the initial post reached 81,634 people, along with 556 shares and 379 reactions. Spotlight received amazing support from its suppliers, shipping partner and numerous volunteers, and we are forever grateful.

PPB  How would you explain the power of promo in raising money for critical causes?

Yager People will support a cause financially because it is a way to pay it forward and help others. When they make their donation and receive a related product—such as the “We Are Humboldt Strong” t-shirt—it is their constant reminder of how they helped. In Spotlight’s case, the t-shirt became a treasured item; something the donor felt connected them to the team and the community. The t-shirt became a symbol and that is what any promo item can become when connected thoughtfully to a fundraiser. 

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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