Currently I sport my 2004 black Saturn Ion. I got my car in November 2008 and for the past two years it has gotten me safely to my destination. Even though I love my Saturn dearly, I began to miss my little silver 2003 Hyundai Elantra (even if I did have to share it with my younger brother) after I learned what Hyundai is doing to help kids fight cancer.

According to the Hope on Wheels website, what started in 1998 as an initiative by New England Hyundai dealers has now evolved into an independent nonprofit organization. Hope on Wheels is a national partnership between all of Hyundai’s more than 800 dealers and Hyundai Motor America. At the end of 2010, Hope on Wheels will have donated more than $23 million to children’s hospitals nationwide to help kids fight cancer.

Hope on Wheels Logo

Image Courtesy of Google Images

This September—Childhood Cancer Awareness Month—Hope on Wheels has expanded its commitment by creating the “Hyundai Gives Hope on Wheels” program. Through this program Hyundai dealers nationwide and Hyundai Motor America will donate $6.8 million dollars to children’s hospitals and other nonprofit organizations.

According to the Medical News, Hope on Wheels will visit about sixty organizations across the country to distribute Hyundai Hope Grants in the amount of $100,000. These funds will go towards research that will hopefully help cure the cancers that strike these children.

How has Hope on Wheels created success? I believe the way Hope on Wheels utilized the World Wide Web to create awareness for its campaign contributed to it being so successful. Its interactive website and its use of social media is a best practice for public relations professionals working in nonprofit public relations.

Interactive website

The Hope on Wheels website gives its audience many outlets to find out information and to become connected to the organization and its mission. The website has a strong strategic approach that goes beyond the basics.

• Meet the Kids. Visitors of the website are able to read stories on some of the kids that were helped through Hope on Wheels. By giving the visitors of the website a chance to connect with these kids, it allows for an emotional connection. If someone is emotionally connected, they are more likely to support your organization.

• Photo Gallery. The website also has a photo gallery with a variety of pictures that range from patients to hospital employees receiving the grants. Allowing your audience to see what the organization is doing through visuals also creates that intimate connection.

• Interactive Map. Hope on Wheels has created an interactive map that shows where the campaign has gone and is heading. From this map, visitors of the website can see if and when Hope on Wheels is coming to their area. By allowing your audience to see where you are going keeps them constantly updated and connected.

Social media

Hope on Wheels also has incorporated social media into its campaign. Utilizing social media in today’s society is a great way to reach a large audience in a quick amount of time. Social media also allows the organization to update its audiences on a 24/7 basis.

• Twitter. Hope on Wheels has its own Twitter account. According to this blog post, Twitter has become one of the fastest growing platforms for communicating, organizing and networking. By using a Twitter and creating valuable information, it keeps your audience coming back.

• Facebook. Hope on Wheels also utilizes a Facebook page. Through its Facebook, Hope on Wheels connects with its audience through pictures, videos and event listings. Facebook also allows visitors to comment and share their story with the Hope on Wheels Campaign.

By keeping your audience connected through your website and social media, you will continue to create a strong following for your organization. In todays society, a majority of people are using the Web. By knowing this, it gives nonprofits another outlet to reach its audience. Without support from your audience, a nonprofit organization has a hard time existing.

Let me know what you guys think of Hope on Wheels. What else do you think they are doing that makes the organization successful? Do you even find it to be successful? Leave your thoughts in the comments or feel free to message me on Twitter.

Oh– one more thing! Can I switch back to my Hyundai Elantra now? Pretty please.

2003 Hyundai Elantra

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

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The first “real” sport I played was the wonderful game of soccer. My parents signed my brother and me up at our local YMCA. Within a few weeks of participating in the sport—I quit. I told my parents that soccer was stupid, and all you did was “get dirty and kick a ball.” To this day, I regret quitting the game.

Although I didn’t participate in any other sports at my local YMCA, it was still a large part of my life. My dad has been working out there for over 20 years!

Well Dad, you will be happy to know that the YMCA is giving itself a facelift to what you have been calling it since you walked into the building.

What is the YMCA doing?

The YMCA is one of the largest nonprofits that are giving its organization a new brand and logo to create more public awareness around all of the services it offers—a brilliant idea.

Image Courtesy of Google Images

According to a reported article from Naples Daily News, the most visible change to the brand is the updated Y logo. The article reports that the new logo uses a stylized delta or arrowhead shape plus a triangle to form the letter y (the y is lowercase in the logo). The new logo also comes in five different color variations.

Why is this a brilliant idea?

I think the new brand and logo will help the Y communicate its organization more effectively. For years people have been referring to the YMCA as the Y. I never once thought twice about where my dad was going when he told me he “was stopping at the Y on his way home from work.”

With new brands being introduced in the masses, it is important for nonprofit organizations to keep its brand from becoming to generic. Organizations need to continually research how it is perceived and how to connect with its surrounding communities.

Most, if not all nonprofits rely solely on community and/or government support. The more a nonprofit can connect with its community and let the community appreciate all it does, the more successful it will be.

According to an article from the NonProfit Times, two years of research went into the new brand strategy and will reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the organization. It will also provide a framework that focuses resources on three core areas: youth development, healthy living and social responsibly. The new Y logo defines those three areas.

The Y introduced its brand through a national campaign on September 18, and within the next five years all 2,680 affiliates will transition.

Why is this important for PR professionals?

I think public relation professionals working for nonprofits should take a lesson from the Y. Refocusing your brand strategy will only make your organization stronger and help keep a loyal following. By conducting research every few years, public relation professionals will be able to keep its organizations mission current with the needs and wants of its audience.

I applaud the Y and its new branding strategy, and so will my dad! I am excited to see how its new face will strengthen its organization and its relations within its community.

What do you think?

Do you guys think the Y is making a smart decision in changing its brand and logo? Do you think its new brand and logo represents the organization? Should nonprofits be aware of the wants and needs of its audience when it comes to their brand identity? Leave your thoughts in the comments or send me a reply on Twitter!