2009 PR News CSR Award: Philanthropy Communications

Bank of America and RF|Binder Partners for Neighborhood Excellence Initiative

Since being founded in 2004 to recognize and reward those achieving excellence in their community building efforts, Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative (NEI) rewarded more than rewarded $70 million in unrestricted funding to local nonprofits.

To take that success to the next level, Bank of America execs tapped RF|Binder Partners to garner more awareness of the Neighborhood Builder grants’ unique unrestricted nature.

“The team aimed to break through the clutter of corporate giving stories by highlighting individual efforts and gaining the community’s support for their ‘local heroes,’” says Bianca Olson, managing director, RF|Binder.

Having a human-interest angle helped the team’s efforts, but a key driver of increased media interest would end up being the series of media events, which the team held to recognize individual grant winners. The awards ceremonies helped bring the campaign to life and generate coverage in each market.

“We targeted local and national online editors and strategically selected bloggers who we knew would take interest in community-focused programming,” Olson says. “We also posted photos and tailored articles on sites as appropriate to draw attention to Bank of America’s NEI program and those impacted by it.”

Ultimately, the campaign resulted in a 71% surge in feature stories, as well as a 253% increase in mentions of the unrestricted-funding aspect of NEI grants.

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