The Andy & JJ Dalton Foundation (AJDF) provides support, resources and life-changing experiences to seriously ill children and their families in Cincinnati and Fort Worth, Texas. The nonprofit found itself in the national spotlight on Dec. 31, 2017, when Bengals quarterback Dalton threw a 49-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left in the game to beat the Baltimore Ravens and gave the Buffalo Bills the final AFC wild-card berth, ending the team’s 17-year postseason drought. Bills fan Kevin Forrest donated $30 to AJDF as a thank you and asked fans via social media to follow suit with $17 donations ($1 for every playoff year missed). Forrest’s donation campaign quickly gained traction
Vehr and the AJDF team realized the Foundation had a window of opportunity to harness the energy from the campaign to create broader awareness of, and donations to, AJDF’s programs. From Jan. 1-7, Vehr kicked into action: We developed a news release; pitched media outlets; ghostwrote an opinion piece from Dalton and secured placement in “The Buffalo News”; secured and designed a billboard in Buffalo to thank fans for their support; and tweeted notes of thanks, donation updates and news about AJDF. We also tracked down original donor Kevin Forrest (to expand upon the media angles; when we learned he’s not from Buffalo, we secured an interview with his local paper, “The Lincoln Journal Star” in Nebraska.
In one week, AJDF received more than 1,100 media placements (nearly 14 million impressions) from across the country (CBS, FOX News, ESPN, CNBC, CNN and more). January Twitter engagement increased with 2.14 million impressions, more than 1,500 mentions and 1,300 new followers. Facebook engagement increased with 701,149 impressions, 429,373 users reached, 29,541 engagements and 2,016 new followers (50 percent increase). In all, more than 17,000 Bills fans around the world donated more than $450,000.