At Share Our Strength, it took us nearly 25 years to learn that doing what is most expected of us required doing what was least expected of us.
What has always been most expected of us is helping to feed hungry kids. That’s our highest priority. But scaling our efforts to reach as many of those hungry children as possible required doing what was least expected of us: investing funds in building the brand of our No Kid Hungry campaign — precisely the kinds of expenditures in marketing, communications, and promotion that give donors pause and may mean feeding fewer people in the short term. But what we learned is that a better-known and better-trusted brand attracts more supporters and yields record levels of funding support and thus greater impact. […]
As consumers began to recognize the No Kid Hungry brand, corporate partners and brands outside of our traditional culinary-industry sweet spot became interested in working with us. For example, we developed highly successful partnerships with Uber, American Girl, and Citi, to name a few. As our revenues nearly doubled from $26 million in 2008 to almost $50 million in 2014, we saw dramatic program impact. In collaboration with numerous local partners, we saw participation in school-breakfast programs reach its highest levels in history. Six of the 10 states with the greatest increases in summer meal participation were states in which we’d waged No Kid Hungry campaigns. Governors of both parties embraced our work, including Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia.