Power of 12 Campaign Making a Big Impact in Tulsa

Oct 30, 2017 | by Laura Poff

Power of 12 Campaign Making a Big Impact in Tulsa

By: David Ibata

The number 12 is significant in Scripture: Jesus had 12 disciples, Jacob had 12 sons, Revelation's New Jerusalem has 12 pearly gates. And it's there in everyday life, too: Twelve months in a year, 12 people on a jury, 12 eggs to a carton.

"Twelve is kind of a perfect number," said Captain Ken Chapman. "It's a nice number. It resonates well."

It's also inspired him to create "The Power of Twelve." The fundraising strategy is launching in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Metropolitan Command, where Captain Chapman is area commander, and already has been picked up by the Charleston, West Virginia, Area Command.

The premise is simple: If 12,000 people donate $12 a month for 12 months, they will have given $1.7 million after a year. So, even a relatively modest gift can have a huge impact when multiplied by 12 (granted, several times over).

He got the idea while he was serving in Jackson, Mississippi.

"I was thinking about our donor base," he said. "Our average donor is 76 years old, and for a long time we've relied on direct mail to reach them. However, people don't write checks any more. They're giving in different ways.”

Captain Chapman was posted to Tulsa before he had a chance to implement it at his former command, but after four or five months "learning the lay of the land," he was ready to try in Oklahoma. With 1 million people in the Tulsa area, he said, "I'm asking 12,000 people to give $12 a month for a year, so their personal investment is $144. That's two Starbucks a week, essentially.

"Every month," the captain said, "I'll text, email, tweet or whatever a 144-character message to our donors: This is what The Salvation Army is doing with the homeless. The next month – with our youth. The next month – with seniors.

"So, by the end of the year, I have taught this new donor what their money goes toward and what The Salvation Army does to make the community a better place. I'll ask them if they'd like to re-up for another 12 months, or perhaps go to $15 a month in giving."

Power of Twelve had a soft launch earlier this year, with TV commercials and a website. The Salvation Army in Tulsa, the website says, shelters an average of 325 people per night, 50 of them children. In four months, Power of Twelve brought in $100,000. The campaign is on hiatus now but will return in a big way Jan. 1.

"Every TV station in Tulsa has committed to do this for us in-kind as a partnership," Captain Chapman said. "We're doing a digital billboard campaign all over town, and we have four radio stations on board. We also have several donors, mainly from our advisory board, helping us."

Captain Chapman is shooting for $100,000 a month, but he said smaller commands where $100,000 a year would be a big deal can use the idea as well.

"We want to cultivate new donors to become lifelong donors."

The Charleston Command hopes to use Power of Twelve to help support Boys and Girls Club educational programs for children ages 6 through 18, said Holly Goheen, director of development in West Virginia.

"This will be different from other campaigns," she said. "Historically, we used direct mail. We'd like to engage younger donors, and we thought the $12 price point would be attractive to them."

The effort has launched on Facebook, and the command plans to use social media and possibly its local media partners to get the word out. Regardless of size, Charleston is aiming big. "We're aiming for 12,000 Kanawha Valley residents," Goheen said.

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