Nonprofit PR Awards: Advocacy Campaign and Lobbying Efforts

Co-Winner: Illinois Policy Action — Defending Illinois' fair, flat tax

After Illinois lawmakers raised the state income tax by a record 67 percent in 2011, they were set to raise it even higher by labeling it a progressive tax. The tax was marketed as a tax on the rich, but in reality would raise taxes for anyone with more than $20,000 taxable income. Illinois Policy Action launched an aggressive multichannel campaign to stop the progressive income tax from becoming law.

Illinois Policy Action set out to reverse the narrative that the tax would only affect the wealthy. To do this they looked to saturate the media, the public and legislators with the truth about the tax. In 10 key districts, they bought more than 2000 hyperlocal and smart TV spots over five weeks. They also launched a website with targeted messaging for teachers and small business owners, which earned 21 million impressions and over 40,000 website clicks. Through social channels they made over 400,000 impressions. In the end, Illinois voters successfully blocked the tax proposal from being voted on and made law. This saved Illinois families an average of $30 billion over the next five years alone.

Co-Winner: United Nations Foundation, Girl Up Campaign — Girls Count Act

The United Nations Foundation, which supports and promotes the work of the United Nations, took up the issue of ensuring that U.S. foreign assistance systematically targets girls in developing countries. Many developing countries do not account for the number of girls in their population. Young girls are frequently denied birth certificates or other forms of official identification. This means that many young women will not be able to own or inherit land, start a business or vote. The foundation helped create the Girls Count Act of 2014, which sought to address the issue of counting girls and ensuring that U.S. foreign assistance systematically targets girls in developing countries.

The communication tactics used in support of the Girls Count Act included an advocacy mobile app, mobilizing supporters to send letters to Congress asking for support of the legislation, a social media push with a dedicated hashtag and extensive grassroots outreach.  Engagement and outreach goals were met and exceeded during the campaign including, the Girls Count section of received 51,000 page views and 43,000 unique views, a petition collected over 20,000 signatures and over 10,000 emails and 610 personal letters were sent to Congressional offices in support of the Girls Count Act.

Honorable Mentions 

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America - Great Futures Campaign
  • Havas Worldwide Paris  - The Airfood Project
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness - NAMI #Act4MentalHealth Campaign
  • NSF International - Campaign for Safer Supplements
  • Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) - Hosting the World’sMineral Industry and Canada’s Elected Representatives
  • Weber Shandwick on behalf of Siemens - The Baton Pass