SUCCESS STORY – Easter Seals of Southern Georgia
“People come to us as ornament collectors, and often become large donors. Once we have the collectors address, we can provide them with timely information about our organization and what we do for people in their community. We find they then begin to attend events and become more involved. The ornament program has been a great success in every community.”Beth English
Easter Seals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for nearly 100 years. From child development centers to physical rehabilitation and job training for people with disabilities, Easter Seals offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals.
The Easter Seals of Southern Georgia has proven time and again not only how successful a commemorative ornament program can be, but how service organizations can tie into the local community and government to appeal to the public and raise awareness of their cause.
The Easter Seals of Southern Georgia covers 39 counties and has been doing collectible ornament programs since 1992. The goal was to provide a steady revenue stream to the organization, as well as to provide an emotional connection with people for specific nostalgic landmarks or people of influence in their community.
The greatest example of success would have to be the “Arctic Bear” ornament, to honor the city of Albany in 2006. The Arctic Bear was a popular local hangout and eatery in the city of Albany since 1950. It was a natural fit for the nostalgic tie in to the community. Development Director Beth English said “there is really an emotional connection. People tell us stories—they met their wife there, had their first date there. There is just some sort of amazing sentiment attached to the Arctic Bear, which is wonderful.”
The ornament was designed early in 2006 and the first shipment of 750 was shipped in August. In just ten days the entire inventory sold out, and a reorder placed. An additional 300 were shipped, and half were spoken for before they even left the warehouse. A third order was placed before the end of the year, and subsequent years have seen continuous reorders. Since then, initial orders have increased about 50% year over year.
The Easter Seals of Southern Georgia has simultaneous ornament programs running in different counties. Each year the list of counties getting involved grows. In order to begin an ornament program in a new city, Beth English believes she must target her campaigns in communities where her organization has a visible presence. She then solicits the local Chamber of Commerce and City government for her collectible ornament plan. English says the program is a no‐brainer. “The ornament sells itself. Working with the local chamber and government, the key is to find the right subject and then bring it to the public.” The process usually includes a mayoral proclamation towards the end of the summer for the official city ornament. As a proclamation, this draws media coverage – radio, TV and print – which becomes a great vehicle for exposure of not just the ornament, but for the organization as well.The media exposure increases hits to the website, attendees to events, and donors to Easter Seals.
By keeping the product simple and focused on the landmark or person, the organization is able to keep costs down and profits high. They continue to have a following of people who have some of the ornaments, and increased interest from people who saw the media coverage on the Arctic Bear and not only want that ornament, but the rest in the collection.
To learn more about the Easter Seals of Southern Georgia, please visit easterseals.com/southerngeorgia