Last year, Urban Ministries of Durham made national news with their online game, Spent. They teamed up with McKinney, an advertising agency, to help re-create the experience of living below the poverty line.
But, after playing Spent, "I think you get through... and it feels pretty hopeless," said McKinney associate creative director, Jenny Nicholson. UMD and McKinney wanted to bring some of that hope back.
Thus, Names For Change.
The new campaign is simple; For a donation, you can own the naming rights to any of the various items UMD uses to connect with those in need.
Some of the items include:
- $4 Can of Tuna
- $7 Box of Spaghetti
- $15 Bag Lunch
- $50 Storage Locker
- $20,000 Community Cafe
"So you could go on the website and pay anything from $1 up to $25,000 for a variety of different items," said UMD Executive Director, Patrice Nelson. "Our agency depends really heavily on private sources of support, and this is one of the ways we're generating it this year."
To be clear, your name won't actually go on a can of tuna at the UMD offices.
"Putting somebody's name on a tampon or a roll of toilet paper would get awkward pretty quickly," Nicholson said.
It's more of a game. To give a sense of how you might have a little fun, Nelson donated a box of floss in honor of WUNC's Phoebe Judge. The "Phoebe Judge of Digging for the Truth."
The campaign is meant to give a sense of respect to the items UMD uses in its outreach every day.
"They're not sexy," Nicholson said. "There's nothing cute about the needs. They're very mundane and very fundamental. And we thought, 'You know what? That's actually interesting.' There's something interesting about taking pairs of underwear and treating them with same respect that, for example, Save The Children does with a picture of a kid in Africa, or Heifer International does with a cow."
For Nelson, of UMD, it's all about connecting with a new donor base. The agency still relies on their typical pen and paper, mail-in donors. But more and more, they're reaching out to a younger donor-base.
"... a whole new, younger audience that focuses on social media and is very tech-savvy," Nelson said. "And one of the benefits to working with McKinney, is that allows us to communicate through new media to all of our new donor block."