How Y&R Philippines’ TURDTalks raised big money for low-achievers

Y&R Philippines’ TURDTalks for Silad Aralan Inc has been named as the country’s only Finalist at the APAC EFFIES 2016, proving to a compassion-fatigued nation that anyone can overcome a ‘crappy’ start in life.

Background: Education-oriented NGOs usually champion the 1.3% of Filipino public school students who show promise, leaving average students (18.6%) and under-performing students (80%) to fend for themselves. From scholarships and educational stipends to local and international exposure, it’s those who excel that get support. Silid Aralan (translation ‘Classroom’) focuses on the neglected 80%, those struggling academically yet equally worthy of investment. The charity sought to scale the country for change; rather than just banking on the promising few, instead unlocking the potential of the majority to impact society.

Challenge: Compassion fatigue - the Philippines is home to 60,000 registered NGOs serving many causes. From women’s and children’s rights, disaster preparedness and education, to personal health, sanitation and hunger, the list is long and so are the requests. Annual natural disasters, like the strongest typhoons ever recorded in Southeast Asia, add to the donors’ fatigue. Getting people engaged in the cause had to start with overcoming the compassion fatigue Filipinos face.

Execution: The campaign tapped into the popularity of TEDTalks’ accessibility – how it makes expert knowledge interesting and available to anyone who wants to learn, through conferences and videos of the talks shared on social.
Introducing TURDTalks: an eye-opening speaker series featuring those that society perceive as ‘tae’ (translation ‘dirt/turd’) low-performing, low-income students who ended up changing not only their report card grades for the better, but their lives and society as well. Not because of an exceptional ability, but because someone invested in them. The popular idea-sharing platform was spun by featuring students as the ‘experts’ – ‘tae’ who have been transformed by Silid Aralan. The audience, comprising potential donors and education practitioners, saw first-hand just how they turned their lives around. Beyond the event, the media strategy moved with the assets in hand – videos of the conference. The rest – tweets, shares, blog entries, and media features – happened organically, further spreading the thought that ‘turds’ too have ideas worth sharing.

Results: Donations of almost Php$9 million (USD185,916.8), exceeded the Php $2 million target by 340%; plus 4 learning hubs were established – exceeding the 3-hub target.
Silid Aralan’s core objectives for 2015:

  • To increase pledges and donations by 67%
  • To increase learning hubs by 300% from 1 to 3.

During the first TURDTalks event in April 2015, Silid Aralan received an on-the-spot public donation of corporate office space worth Php 6million (USD126,761) which allowed Silid Aralan to grow its number of learning hubs from 1 to 4. Additionally, Silid Aralan received Php $2 million (USD42,253.8) in support from a Singaporean donor who heard of Silid Aralan via an article shared online. Apart from corporate sponsorships, Silid Aralan also received Php 800,000 (USD16,901.5 USD) in pledges from individuals.

Other results included an increase in volunteerism by 300% from 7 to 20 and the increased legitimization of Silid Aralan, which in May 2015 received an endorsement from the Department of Education. TURDTalks paved the way for Silid Aralan to gain free media equivalent to Php 10,787,220 (USD228,267.10 USD) across news on leading local channels, radio, in digital and print.

With a minimal campaign spend of just Php 28,000 (591.55 USD), TURDTalks gained the support of stakeholders, covering operational costs in the long term and therefore helping more low-performing, low-income public school students. Donation fatigue was also overcome with influencers advocating Silid Aralan as a worthy and important cause. In less than 6 months, Silid Aralan is already half-way towards its 5 year-goal, thanks to TURDTalks.