How the Toy Industry Foundation Keeps Giving Momentum Going Year-Round
The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF), the philanthropic arm of the North American toy industry, has a year-round mission of making play possible for disadvantaged kids.
As a nonprofit organization relying solely on in-kind donations from members of the toy industry and monetary support from both the industry as well as the public, TIF is able to address the barriers standing in the way of a child’s access to play. TIF's efforts are not only limited to holidays. Here are the key tactics TIF uses to keep the momentum going throughout every season.
Keep in regular contact with donors
Throughout the year, TIF shares pictures and descriptions of the “feel-good moments” from its toy distributions with foundation supporters. These updates promote continued support of TIF’s efforts to bring a sense of fun and normalcy to the lives of kids in need. The outreach is working. Over the past 12 months, the foundation’s Toy Bank has received a record-breaking volume of toys — at last count, more than 525,000 toys valued at more than $10 million — to deliver to children around the globe.
Make a connection with others
TIF’s Play Comforts program is a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA). Together, TIF and BGCA have visited dozens of U.S. military bases in the past three years, donating thousands of toys to the children of military families. The program was launched as a way of saying "thank you" to the nation’s soldiers and their families when many parents were directly involved in military conflict. By continuing this program at a time when parents are returning home, TIF is able to help families reconnect through play. By sharing those stories, donors are drawn in to the foundation and propelled to donate.
Develop a strong call to action
By calling on the public to be involved, everyone can feel like he or she is making a real difference.
Within the toy industry, the annual Do Good Stuff-a-thon brings together industry volunteers in Southern California to fill duffel bags with toys and games that have been donated for children in the foster care system.
TIF’s new Make a Stand for Kids program urges young entrepreneurs, families, classmates and community groups to make stands to sell lemonade, apple cider or hot chocolate and other treats in support of the TIF’s work. These programs allow TIF to help raise the funds to distribute toys to kids while teaching children about the importance of philanthropy and being socially responsible to help others.
When your outreach to potential donors comes during an off-peak time — when donors aren’t inundated with other charity solicitations (think summer vs. holiday) — they are more likely to notice your message. Other gifting occasions (think Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays and holidays) are also great opportunities for a donor to honor a loved one by making a contribution to a favorite charity or cause. These gifts are often more appreciated than the extra kitchen gadget or tie that mom and dad don’t need.
Don’t be shy
Because TIF must rely on others to help fulfill its mission, we cannot be shy about spreading our message. Whether it’s through mailings, social networks or updating our website, we make sure the public can access our successes. Heightening awareness about what we do is a way TIF and all charitable organizations can keep fundraising endeavors strong.
Jean Butler is executive director of the Toy Industry Foundation.