For many of the 25,000 runners who took part in this fall’s Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation 5K run in New York, the event was more than just a race.
It was an emotion-packed journey that connected them to the story of the foundation’s namesake — a New York City firefighter who, upon hearing about the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center went running through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to help those who were trapped in the towers.
That connection is no accident. The organization’s small marketing team focuses its energy on building a strong sense of community among its supporters and inspiring them to raise money on its behalf.
Here are some of the tactics the Stephen Siller Foundation uses to achieve these goals:
1. Tell powerful stories
The Stephen Stiller Foundation has invested heavily in telling and sharing the stories of the people it serves, says Erin Albano, the organization’s marketing manager.
Those stories are often focused on the military veterans and first responders it serves rather than on the organization itself.
“There are a million organizations and the further away we get from 9/11, people are not as connected to it,” Albano says. “By using stories and retelling those stories, we can keep the audience connected. We’ve found that once we make that connection and they decide to participate or volunteer, they will keep coming back.”
2. Invite conversation
The foundation doesn’t simply talk about its work. It encourages its supporters to share their own stories.
In its social networks, for example, it focuses not on promoting its events but on asking its supporters to talk about who they are running for and why they are involved.
It might sound obvious, but too many organizations simply push information at its supporters rather than inviting them to share their stories in their own words.
3. Embrace emotion
When runners exit the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel at its 5K race, they pass 343 uniformed firefighters who hold banners depicting the men and women who lost their lives on 9/11.
The foundation works to make sure that its events are unique and emotional. Strong emotions build strong bonds that will likely inspire participants to tell others about their experience — and to participate again.
You can learn more about the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s work at a free webinar on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Join the webinar to hear from Albano and others as they discuss:
- Lessons from Tunnel to Towers on how to engage with and leverage the grassroots networks of your top supporters
- Best practices from marquee events and organizations across industries like Boston Marathon, Soldiers to Summits, and Top Spin
- How to employ concepts such as incentives and gamification to increase event registration and fundraising participation
Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum is sponsoring this free webinar thanks to support from Eventbrite.
We hope to see you there.