Thursday, April 12, 2012

Old people design hip fundraising appeal aimed at young people

A bunch of well-meaning Baby Boomers at Metro’s largest charity have come up with a new fundraising program aimed at attracting young donors. The new program, called “Wicked Sick”, hopes to attract a whole new generation to the Metro Hospital Foundation.

“We realized that most of our donors are over the age of 50. That’s really good news for planned giving, but bad for everything else. We needed to infuse our donor base with some young people so I turned to the youngest people on our staff – they’re only in their late 50s,” said Foundation Executive Director Melvin Snidely.

Dibble Brewer, a 59 year old fundraiser with two high school kids, led the team that developed “Wicked Sick”. She said their starting point was that today’s young generation are self-centered bums who don’t take out the garbage at the Brewer house unless they are told several times.

“I used my own children to help formulate the fundraising plan. We quickly realized that young people today are so brain-damaged that they likely don’t even know what a hospital is, let alone why they should make a donation. They just talk on the phone and eat pizza. So, we decided to speak to them in their own language,” said Brewer.

The “Wicked Sick” campaign features pictures of young people with cell phones wearing gangsta-type clothes and making strange hand signals. In each ad, one of the young people speaks out about health care.

“Yo, it iz really important ta support our local hopsitals wif fundraising. Don't make me shank ya! Yo Raising money fo' hospitals iz our responsibility. Da young generation needs ta do its part in supporting public institutions wif they money an' tyme just like mammy,” said one of the ads.

Brewer said she had to hire a special translation house operated by the Cripps Gang in Los Angeles to help write the ads, which no one but a young person understand.

“We know that young people can’t read, so we pumped up the imagery of men wearing lots of gold chains, hot cars and scantily clad women,” said Brewer.

The TV version of the ad features several dancing and giggling women who shake their hips wildly every time someone mentions fundraising. The protagonists in the ads wear chains and carry 9mm handguns along with donation forms and pledge sheets.

Snidely said he was very pleased that the whole hospital got into the campaign. The Chairman of the Board started wearing a bandanna and sported a huge gold ring while the Chief of Staff learned to break dance, until he broke his foot. The entire fundraising staff started to use street language in an attempt to be more appealing to young people.

“We were all going around calling each other home fries and asking our donors, young and old, to be in our possum. It was really meaningful,” said Snidely.

Brewer has begun an outreach program aimed at local high schools, where she appears in rapper clothes holding a huge boom box saying “We's really need yo' he`p, muther f’ckers!”.

For their part, young people say the campaign has been very moving. Jane Beacon, 19, said she saw the hospital foundation in a new light after hearing one pitch for “Wicked Sick”.

“I don’t know what the heck they were doing. I couldn’t understand a word they said. I think it’s like a Borat thing, like clowns. Kind of funny,” said Beacon. “Geez, I hope the hospital doesn’t find out the shit they’re doing.”

Tony Devouno, 22, said he was moved to make a major donation because of the program.

“They were like all over me saying rude words. I had to give them five bucks to make them go away. They’re like street people on steroids. I don’t know what they wanted but I found it offensive,” he said.

“The reaction for Metro’s young people has been overwhelming,” said Snidely. Already, since the program started last week donations by people under the age of 25 has grown 10 times from two to twenty. Snidely is hoping as many as 37 young people make a donation this year.

“We’ve invested more than $50,000 on videos, gold chains and dancing skanks, but I know it will all be worth it when all of our current donors are dead and these donors take their place,” said Snidely. “And that’s what philanthropy is all about.”