Do you have ideas for serving those who served the United States? An idea for even a small gesture that amounts to a moment of grace that might transform the life of someone in need? See3 and Volunteers of America recognize that people across the country are ready and willing to assist their local veterans, and recently launched a campaign to help them do just that. Introducing “After the Uniform”- a Facebook campaign to get everyday Americans thinking about their solutions to veterans’ issues in their communities.
See3 helps Volunteers of America tell their story and engage the public online. They’re an amazing and far-reaching organization that serves some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations. Volunteers of America offers programs that provide assistance to seniors, veterans, children and families, the homeless and many more.
Volunteers of America and Veterans
Volunteers of America increasingly finds themselves addressing the crisis of reintegrating into society faced by our veterans – an issue that is more important than ever as service members return from Iraq and Afghanistan and struggle in their return to civilian life. Veterans deal with a variety of issues – from mental health problems like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, to limited access to health care and transportation and poor job opportunities. In the worst cases, these issues can lead to a cycle of financial insecurity and even homelessness.
According to a December 2011 survey, 67,495 veterans are homeless on any given night and twice as many experience homelessness during a year.
In 46 cities in 20 states, Volunteers of America has been serving the needs of America’s veterans since World War I. They know from experience that the issues our returned veterans face are unique from community to community. But, while the issues are daunting, they are not insurmountable. And now, they’re looking to everyday Americans for breakthrough ideas to help local veterans.
Every day, Volunteers of America sees amazing examples of neighbors coming together to help veterans in their communities. Inspiring ideas range from starting a babysitting cooperative so that vets can take time to job search or receive medical assistance, to creating car pools so vets in rural areas can get to their local VA office which may be hours away.
Based on that insight, this client has launched an online campaign to engage people across the United States and ask: what is your idea for helping those who served us?
About The Campaign
We know that Americans want all our veterans to rejoin their communities and achieve stable, prosperous civilian lives. We realized Facebook can give everyone a space to articulate their ideas while encouraging others to do the same.
Volunteers of America provided an incentive – a $1,000 grant to one such idea, to be chosen at random – as a way to show that no idea is too small and anything that helps veterans is worth doing. This incentive makes all the difference to some people who know they can help, but like many of us, struggle to find the resources to make it happen.
The Campaign on Facebook
In order to give people a streamlined way to participate, we created a customized promotion via Wildfire Apps on Facebook. This user-generated contest allows people to share their ideas through a simple essay interface. The promotion is about creating conversations and ensuring that people have a space to share their idea with Volunteers of America then share that idea with their friends on Facebook.
Facebook application-based promotions are simple and effective “micro campaigns” that can be brought to market quickly and help you to engage your existing audience while bringing new followers on and off of Facebook.
Volunteers of America have received some terrific ideas so far, including:
• A check-in “buddy system” phone tree, from Marcella.
“You would be surprised how many [soldiers] are not fully prepared for civilian life after the military; especially in a non-military town…If there is a program to identify these Vets sooner, less will fall through the cracks.”
• A sailing school for veterans, from Melissa.
“Aboard our vessels, our guest sailors will gain knowledge and acquire the new skill of sailing while taking in the splendor of the sea and making new friends.”
• A community reinvigoration program, from Tim.
“They can rebuild their lives while they rebuild a place for themselves and other less-capable vets.”
We Want Your Idea Too
First, support this campaign by going to the application and sharing your own idea (and get a chance to receive $1,000 to implement your idea.)
Then, SHARE this with your friends, on your blog, and anywhere else you talk to your neighbors. The more ideas are submitted, the more ideas the public sees, and if any of these spark inspiration that leads to one person helping a vet and their family, that’s a win for everybody.
How See3 Can Help You
See3 knows how to make your online user-generated content campaigns succeed. From the DoGooder Awards to the Drive Smarter Challenge to After the Uniform, we’ve created campaigns that empower your audience to share and engage. Contact us to find out more about what we do, and how our team can bring this kind of work to bear for your next initiatives.