“It’s almost like a Shark Tank,” says Chris Tyquin of goa’s Community Partnership Program, referring to the TV show that has budding entrepreneurs facing off against at panel of tough self-made millionaires.
Last year from a field of 80 not-for-profits that showed up for the briefing sessions, the largest billboard company in Queensland cherry picked just a few to share in $1 million worth of free media space.
Tyquin, who is CEO and Joint Managing Director of the family-run business, pulls no punches. He’s not here to do the work for you, he’s looking for entrepreneurial, energetic organisations that have a game plan, which goa can then deliver to its audience of over 500,000 people via its network of electronic billboards to achieve tangible, positive, measurable outcomes.
Like the campaigns the company delivered for Anglicare Southern Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
When faced with a lack of awareness about their mental health programs, such as art therapy, for young people, Anglicare Southern Queensland came up with an innovative idea. They would to invite six emerging artists struggling with mental health issues to create a work of art in eight hours. The process would be broadcast and the art sold, but with a captivating twist. In a world first, a live art auction was broadcast on THE goa GRID and Facebook Live.
The Anglicare Arts& Minds campaign was a resounding success, raising money and awareness (over four million impressions) and boosting the confidence of the artists who took part.
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation used goa’s billboards to showcase stunning underwater imagery and encourage people to help protect our ailing world heritage site by becoming “reef scientists”. More than 1500 people signed up. Those who correctly identified what was right and wrong about the reef in an online challenge got to see their name up in lights on a billboard, which could also be viewed online.
The campaign resulted in a level of engagement that the Great Barrier Reef Foundation never thought possible.
The Queensland Writers Centre’s #8WordStory campaign recently went live and is already having an impact. The campaign asks budding writers to put pen to billboard and the best eight-word stories will go up on the billboards. In just two weeks the competition has already attracted over 3,500 entries. The submissions have come from all over Australia, including from two The New York Times bestselling authors, Margo Lanagan and Delilah S Dawson.
Like many giving programs, goa’s Community Partnership Program was born out of a desire to professionalise and formalise the company’s philanthropy. And for Tyquin, it was also born of frustration.
In the 80s when he worked in network television, ads for charities were run on an ad hoc basis with no feedback. Thirty years later things hadn’t changed much. The constant stream of requests from charities for billboard space came with little or no feedback when goa did run ads.
“The days of just sending an ad out ad hoc is a game of diminishing returns for the not-for-profits,” says Tyquin whose company has undergone rapid change.
Over a decade ago, goa was working with two-week lead times and sending out people with posters and buckets of glue. Today, if clients have the artwork ready, they can have an ad up in minutes, and they can change their ads every five minutes if they wish.
Just as goa had to adapt its business model to keep up with the times, the company has adapted its giving with laser focus.
“Where we might have had 20 to 30 charities sharing $300,000 of media space and a bit of cash, we’ve increase it to over a $1 million across four or five organisations. They are getting a lot more effort from us and a lot more support as far as execution goes,” says Tyquin.
But to become a community partner, the organisation must first survive the shark tank.
Following briefing sessions, which include case studies of past campaigns to demonstrate the calibre of what is expected, charities are asked to return with their game plan and evidence they can execute it.
“They have to come back and present to us what they are proposing to do, when they are proposing to do it, what they want us to do, and what are the desired outcomes,” says Tyquin.
It’s also important that any campaign goa backs is not conceived in isolation. To that end, if possible Tyquin and his team will sit down with other media companies to make sure the campaign is well orchestrated.
“It’s unrealistic to let one media carry everything. Where possible it should be an overall strategy that encompasses different media on different fronts; all in the orchestra together, on the same page.”
While the partnerships have generally been healthy and yielded good results, it has not always been Tyquin’s experience.
“My observation is the more reliant not-for-profits are on government funding, the more their staff and management’s culture reflects the bureaucracy they deal with in government. We still encounter staff in these organisations who are always looking for someone else to do their jobs. It might offend some people, but I’m afraid that is the brutal reality.”
If a dissonant note slips through, it is dealt with swiftly.
“We had a campaign we just finished recently and it was obvious that the not-for-profit staff member was just looking for someone to do the heavy lifting for them. They’d fallen short on some of their KPIs and they didn’t see what the issue was for automatic renewal next year. I said ‘No, you’ve failed here, here and here. We’ve stuck to our end of the bargain and you’ve got to come forth with these outcomes.’”
Tyquin points to the US model, which breeds a different culture.
“The US government doesn’t give anywhere near the support on a per capita basis as the Australian government does to the not-for-profit sector. They have to get 80% of their funding from the private sector and the culture within these not-for-profits is completely different to the culture in many Australian not-for-profits. It reflects more what goes on in the private sector; they have a far more energetic and entrepreneurial approach.”
As they enter the third year of the Community Partnership Program, Tyquin expects the bar will be raised higher. And even for charities that don’t survive the shark tank, he believes they will leave the briefing sessions with great case studies that could redirect or reenergise the way they approach making the world a better place.
Applications for goa’s 2018 Community Partnership Program close on 31 October and winners are announced on 8 December.
For more information about goa, visit the website.