Riding The Super Bowl Wave
For several years in a row, the number of deteriorating houses that Rebuilding Together Houston(RTH) volunteer crews repaired for low-income elderly and veteran homeowners hovered around 365. Although an average of one per day was impressive, RTH clearly was not meeting the city’s needs because its waiting list continued to expand each year. When the Board of Directors met in 2013 to discuss long-range goals, there were nearly 500 qualified homeowners awaiting RTH’s help. It became clear that in order to increase its impact, the nearly 35-year-old nonprofit needed not only to re-energize its current base of donors and 5,000 volunteers, but it would have to grow those numbers as well.
In 2014, the RTH Board undertook a nine-month strategic planning process. Its proverbial BHAG was to almost double the number of families being served to 700 by the year 2020. An initial benchmark of 500 was set for sometime around the half-way point. Noting that The Super Bowl would be coming to Houston in 2017, RTH hired a marketing firm to help construct a Super Impact 17 campaign with the goal of raising $500,000 and completing repairs on 500 homes in time for the big game. To create excitement for the campaign, “Vision 700” was first introduced to the public at RTH’s 2015 Volunteer Appreciation Awards Luncheon. Super Impact 17 was officially launched with a marketing, brand-awareness and “friend-raising” event at NRG Stadium on September 17, 2015, with various other football-themed events planned over the next 17 months prior to Super Bowl LI, culminating in a large community rebuilding project during the week leading up to the game.
At the time of writing, the final KICKOFF TO REBUILDproject in Independence Heights, the first incorporated African American city in Texas, has not yet taken place. However, Rebuilding Together Houston can already tout Super Impact 17 as a success. With the original target of 17 house sponsorships at $17,000 – $25,000 apiece, RTH had already met over 60% of its goal in the first six months of the campaign; so it raised the bar to 25. New corporate and nonprofit partnerships helped to propel the campaign’s capstone project into a major neighbor-hood event. Not only will volunteers, including NFL players, make exterior house restorations allowing a dozen low-income elderly and veteran Independence Heights homeowners to safely age in place; but they will also create a new Welcome Center, a monument garden recognizing the Historic District’s 1908 origin, a Food Pantry and an added green space with native plants.
And anyone who has watched the local news this week, knows all about it.
As of today, 30 homes have been sponsored and the campaign has raised $625,000 which also includes some smaller sponsorships. Granted, Rebuilding Together National’s 22-year relationshipwith the NFL helped. However, it was the Houston affiliate’s advance planning, willingness to invest in marketing/media and additional personnel, and strong leadership conveying a clear vision with distinct goals that really made it happen.
Any nonprofit can catch the wave of publicity that accompanies a major event; but every surfer knows that the quality of your ride depends on how you are positioned and your momentum when it hits.