CAMPAIGNS: Community Relations
Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capitol Region
200 BIGs in 200 Days



As the recipient of a demonstration grant from the Office of Juvenile Delinquency Prevention, Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capital Region (BBBSMCR) set a goal of recruiting 200 mentors in 200 days in 2013. Specifically, BBBS wanted to target the following demographics for mentorships: males, especially African-American; 17-year-olds and seniors in high school; and professional mentors.

BBBSMCR retained Edge Partnerships (Edge) to develop community relation strategies for the recruitment campaign and, in doing so, also help accomplish another organizational goal – raise awareness among decision makers in government, business and education. The results were nothing short of BIG!



Significant and measurable research was conducted on the national and local levels to support the call for action during the BBBSMCR recruitment campaign. On a national level, Public/Private Ventures, an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization, looked at more than 950 boys and girls from eight Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country selected for their large size and geographic diversity. This study, conducted in 1994 and 1995, is widely considered to be foundational to the mentoring field in general and to Big Brothers Big Sisters Community-Based program in particular.

Researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their BIGs, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters, compared to those children not in our program, were:

  • 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
  • 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
  • 52% less likely to skip school
  • 37% less likely to skip a class
  • 33% less likely to hit someone

At the local level, Edge identified targeted groups, complete with decision makers, contact information and created a master recruitment spreadsheet. This document was shared with the campaign team, who updated the document daily to include important notes, comments and outcomes.



After initial brainstorming sessions with BBBSMCR, Edge produced a recruitment strategy that outlined the campaign theme, key messages and strategies to accomplish the goals of recruiting mentors and raising awareness among targeted audiences.

In addition to a community relations strategy, Edge maximized the use of social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) to create awareness of BBBS and generate interest in mentoring. This was especially effective because of the demographic alignment between users of social media and the prospective recruits.

In addition to strategy plans, Edge handled all planning and logistics for the events included in the recruitment strategy. These events included a VIP kickoff, milestone events and an end-of-campaign celebration.



Strategy 1:
BBBS and Edge developed a list of recruitment prospects, prioritizing the prospect list to target those organizations and businesses with the largest potential pool of mentors. Each organization was assigned a number of prospects to recruit. Organizations representing similar organizations (i.e., business, education, insurance, law, media, etc.) held friendly competitions against each other to boost recruits.

Strategy 2:
Held a VIP event to kick off the 200 BIGs in 200 Days Campaign: The Big Challenge. Using the list outlined above, both the CEOs and public relations managers were invited to an exclusive kickoff event.

Strategy 3:
Developed and distributed public service announcements for television, radio and outdoor. The broadcast ads featured nationally recognized Michigan State University Basketball Coach Tom Izzo. Through partnerships with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Michigan Press Association and Adams Outdoor Advertising, PSAs were run throughout the campaign’s duration.

Strategy 4:
Public relations tactics using both traditional and social media raised awareness of the recruitment campaign and engagement of prospective mentors. Tactics included daily Tweets and status updates, news releases, broadcast media interviews, and ongoing communication with participating organizations.

Strategy 5:
A celebration event at the campaign’s conclusion thanked the organizations and individuals who participated in the challenge and provided an additional opportunity for media coverage to continue raising awareness for BBBS.



The results were BIG, both in terms of number of prospective mentors and increased awareness of BBBSMCR across the mid-Michigan region. Measurements for success netted the following results:

Goal Actual
# Of kickoff event attendees 40 50
# of inquiries from prospective members 200 200+ ongoing
# of new mentors
*Strict screening criteria yielded fewer than goal but campaign grossed more applicants than goal
200 *185
# of Facebook “Likes” 350 500
Most popular age group on Facebook 25-34 25-34
Actual value of PSAs -- $10,000+
# of celebration event attendees 75 150