Voices for Children (VFC) was founded in 1986 as the Child Advocacy Guild, Inc. The original stated purpose of the organization was to initiate fundraising events and methods and to direct those funds to appropriate activities of the Guardian ad Litem Program; to promote awareness of the activities of the program, and to encourage volunteer resources and community awareness.
In 2012, HCP participated in a grant request with VFC of Tampa Bay for $250,000 to specifically market new volunteers in Hillsborough County. Although the grant was not approved, HCP was engaged in 2013 after a $30,000 grant and matching $30,000 donation was earmarked for a smaller but similar grassroots campaign that would depend more on HCP’s media and vendor relationships.
VFC approached HCP with a major challenge—they were unable to recruit sufficient guardians to meet the demand within Hillsborough County. Additionally, with the guardian deficit, fewer voices were spreading the word about the program, which challenged VFC’s fundraising efforts on the program’s behalf.
Thus, the goal was to create a campaign that would raise awareness for the organization in hopes of enhancing donations and recruiting potential volunteers. The campaign aspired to better educate potential recruits and donors of all backgrounds to become engaged with the VFC and Guardian ad Litem organizations.
The effort started with unscripted interviews with 12 VFC volunteers of various career paths and experiences. HCP captured the volunteers’ highly emotional and unique words and their real-life recounts of what it means to be a guardian. These videos were broadcast live on a VFC YouTube channel. Additionally, a broadcast PSA was created and disseminated throughout Hillsborough County cable networks.
HCP negotiated and partnered with various media partners to provide maximized media placement for TV (cable), radio, Internet, Transit, Outdoor (billboards), and print.
A strong public relations campaign was implemented to match the unique video-driven Volunteer Campaign. To date, the campaign continues to deliver new volunteers. The first wave resulted in more volunteer guardians stepping up than there were trainers to prepare them. HCP continues to negotiate, implement, and monitor new media placement for VFC.
The “Local People Making a Difference” campaign delivered a total value of paid and earned media well over $250,000 with an increase in volunteerism by an astounding 66 percent.
In 2013, HCP maintained monthly support services and was unanimously voted by the Board of Directors to receive The Voices for Children Community Advocates of the Year Award.
HCP was engaged again in 2015 on a much smaller scale with a budget of $20,000 to create a new website, social media, print, transit, outdoor, and public relations tactics, all supporting the “Be A Voice” campaign. This would help to increase brand equity again and increase both corporate and private philanthropic donations.
In 2016, HCP created a new brand for the Courthouse Dog Program in addition to a 15-minute “Dogumentary” titled The Courthouse Dog featuring Tibet. HCP also edited various shorter versions for PSAs and video sales tools to assist in circuit court education and implementation. The film was introduced in early September 2016 at the DCF Summit Training Event in Orlando. This budget was just under $8,000. Note: A documentary of this caliber would range from $35-75,000
There was a private debut at The Tampa Theatre for friends and family, and shortly after the film was accepted into the Gasparilla International Film Festival, where it made its global debut. Recently the film was accepted by the Tampa Bay Arts and Education (TBAE) cable network’s original program, Filmmaker Spotlight, and will air in the fall on Charter Spectrum channel 635 and Frontier Fios channel 32. The film is pending acceptance into five other international film festivals in Florida for the 2017-2018 film festival circuit.