Monday, June 17, 2013

New UNCF Branding Swaps Community Activist Language For Wall Street Lingo

The message of the UNCF's new #BetterFutures campaign "is straightforward. Public service announcements...feature stories of real students who speak about their college aspirations. "My name is Sidney, and I am your dividend," one young woman says, holding up a stock-market ticker." - "United Negro College Fund Updates Its Slogan, and Its Brand," The Chronicle of Higher Education

The United Negro College Fund has adopted a new message for potential donors: Think of students as investments.

Articles on NPR and in the Chronicle of Higher Education explore how the UNCF is modernizing their iconic tagline - "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste," by adding "But a Wonderful Thing to Invest In." While ending any sentence in a preposition bothers the writer in me, I'm wondering if their intended target audience - younger, wealthier donors - will be engaged by their new "Invest in Better Futures" campaign.

Even though I'm annoyed that the Chronicle seems to have misspelled Sydni's name in their article, check out their coverage and NPR's if you get a chance. The Chronicle piece has interesting stats about how the UNCF spent four years developing their new campaign based on research from their UNCF Case Study / Stock for Social Change (video below) like $10 invested in education for African-American students today will produce $102 worth of benefits for society.


The NPR piece includes has some early UNCF ads (like one below directed by Spike Lee with a voice-over from Samuel Jackson) and asks readers about how they'd solicit donations for the UNCF. Some of the campaign suggestions in the comments are creative.


I'm a fan of good storytelling. I'm not sure if the new ad I watched tells a story, but it does offer a different perspective on philanthropy based in return on investment. I guess the ad is not aimed at me because while I still consider myself young, I'm definitely not wealthy, so I'm not in their target audience. 

I'd love to hear your ideas. Or just your feedback on what you think of their new campaign.

For those who don't know much about the UNCF, here's a bit of primer from the articles: One of the 150 largest philanthropies in the country, the UNCF is the recipient of $150-$160 million a year in donations. More than half of the students who receive scholarship money from the UNCF are the first in their families to attend college, and most come from families with incomes of less than $25,000 a year. The organization founded in 1944 aims to expand its 300,000-donor base to hand out more scholarships and grants to minority students, especially as college costs rise and many historically black colleges and universities face financial struggles.

On an odd note, watching their new ad (below), I noticed the featured student walking past an urban art mural, "Never Give Up," that is in my neighborhood. Life can be so surprising sometimes. Keep on Enjoyceinglife. It's rarely boring. 


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