Canadian Veterans ABC: Building a Successful Social Media Fundraising Campaign
During the 2015 Canadian election, the Canadian Veterans ABC Campaign was launched to turn the public spotlight on the Harper Government’s deplorable treatment of veterans. After nearly ten years, Harper’s record on the treatment of Canada’s veterans was indefensible. Under his watch nine Veterans Affairs offices were closed, veteran benefits were clawed back, and many veterans were forced to take legal action against the government to get the benefits they deserved.
These atrocious actions, along with many others, resulted in a dramatic increase in homelessness and suicide among Canadian veterans.
The ABC Campaign aimed to make veterans a major campaign issue during the 2015 election. By highlighting Harper’s terrible record, we aimed to dissuade voters who cared about veterans from rewarding him with another term as Prime Minister. We set out to create a strong media campaign to shine a light on the many issues facing Canadian veterans, and to draw attention to the mistreatment many received under Harper’s decade in power. By promoting an “Anyone But Conservative” approach to the election, we worked to encourage voters to support new leadership in Canada that would provide our veterans with the care and respect they deserve.
Utilizing social and print media, the ABC Campaign first attracted supporters to the cause and then motivated those supporters to take an “Anyone But Conservative” approach to voting in their local ridings. We created custom “memes,” videos and candidate endorsements, and turned them into digital ads. Using social and traditional media, these memes and videos reached millions of Canadians in the weeks leading up to the election. We also released a regular cycle of press releases and conducted media interviews on TV, radio and in print news publications, all pushing the campaign to national attention beyond social media. We distributed lawn signs, buttons and other items to donors and concerned voters. These items increased donor participation in the campaign while also increasing on-the-ground campaign visibility in key ridings.
With our help, veterans’ issues became a major focal point during the election, gaining key coverage in print and TV media. The issue was eventually addressed by each party in their election platforms to varying degrees – a sign that party leaders were listening. After a dramatic election result, the new Canadian government has now made significant promises, including the re-opening of 9 closed Veterans Affairs offices, increased benefits for veterans, and improved training and support for recently-retired veterans and their families.
Our social media team achieved great results throughout the election. Our Facebook page follows went from 500 to nearly 18,000 followers in less than 3 months. We reached over 11 million Facebook users among Canadians over the age of 35. Our memes reached over 1 million Canadians per week through our Facebook and Twitter campaigns and our press releases were picked up by national media, resulting in many TV and radio interviews.
Our Twitter campaign was among the most active during the election, reaching nearly 40,000 people per day. In the final week of our campaign, our custom created videos were seen by millions of Canadian voters on Facebook and YouTube. Our efforts were rewarded with two 2016 Reed Awards, for Best Canadian Online Ad Campaign and Best Canadian Web Video.
Our data shows that while support for Conservatives eroded nationally, some of their greatest losses were in ridings that included military bases, a clear sign that our message resonated with voters. Support for the Conservative Party also dropped significantly among active-service voters, once considered a Conservative stronghold. Two anonymous Conservative Party members later told us they were completely caught off guard by the impact of the veterans’ movement, of which our organization was the driving force during the campaign.