Budget-Friendly Impact: How These Two Nonprofits Drove Change in Healthcare | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Budget-Friendly Impact: How These Two Nonprofits Drove Change in Healthcare


Despite limited budgets, nonprofits like Colorectal Cancer Coalition (CCC) and Iroquois Healthcare Association (IHA) showcased the potential for impactful health advocacy campaigns. CCC's "Talking Shit Saves Lives" successfully raised awareness through disruptive strategies, while IHA's "Caring Gene" achieved impressive engagement and exceeded benchmarks in healthcare recruitment. These cases highlight the effectiveness of innovative, purpose-driven approaches in driving meaningful impact despite budget constraints.

The ambitions of nonprofit organizations can often be hampered by limited budgets that inhibit their ability to drive impact at scale. However, through creativity, disruptive tactics, and inventive strategies nonprofits can achieve meaningful impact without an extensive budget. Inspired by their steadfast commitments, CCC and IHA scaled their healthcare advocacy to execute impactful campaigns that captured attention and drove substantial impact. CCC's "Talking Shit Saves Lives" campaign and IHA's "Caring Gene" program serve as proof that impactful, purpose-driven campaigns can be achieved by taking an innovative, disruptive, and data-driven approach, even with limited resources.

Colorectal Cancer Coalition: "Talking Shit" to Combat Colorectal Cancer Incidence

CCC is a nonprofit dedicated to ending colorectal cancer deaths by encouraging people to get screened, and educating others about signs and symptoms of the treatable disease. The 20-year-old organization embarked on a mission to address the rising incidence of colorectal cancer among young people. Despite its high treatability when detected early, insurance limitations often prevent screenings before the age of 45. To this end, the organization wanted to drive awareness of the disease among young adults and encourage them to pay attention to potential symptoms and seek medical advice.

CCC knew it needed to launch a disruptive campaign to get the attention of young adults and educate them on the symptoms associated with colorectal cancer. Thus, the organization launched its Talking Shit Saves Lives campaign, targeting young people on streaming and terrestrial radio in regions with elevated colon cancer. These U.S. states included Mississippi, Texas, and Oklahoma.

The audio asset featured a profanity laced PSA discussing colorectal cancer symptoms and the importance of getting checked. To circumvent radio censorship, the organization hired announcers whose primary language wasn't English to read words that sounded like "shit." These reads were strategically used as "bleeps," allowing the campaign's message to be broadcasted without censorship.

The Talking Shit Saves Lives campaign sparked significant conversations and achieved widespread recognition and engagement. DJs and listeners actively discussed the campaign on air, fostering organic amplification on social media. Moreover, the campaign ad earned a 98 percent completion rate, and drove a 20 percent increase in searches for colon cancer symptoms.

Iroquois Healthcare Association: Redefining Healthcare Recruitment

IHA is a regional healthcare trade organization representing more than 50 hospitals and health systems across upstate New York. In the face of a healthcare worker shortage, the nonprofit organization launched its Caring Gene campaign in 2020 — a recruitment program to attract long-term caregivers. The goal of the initiative was to identify and attract people who possessed innate caring genes.

In the third year of the campaign, the nonprofit identified 264 micro-segments across New York State. It also learned that its target was between 18 and 24, ethnically diverse, urban, and interested in hip-hop, dance, celebrities, and gaming. With this picture, the organization curated flash mob/TikTok style video content, supplemented by a social quiz assessing if someone had the "caring gene." The initiative was further amplified by streaming audio and native programmatic tactics that directed interested candidates to caringgene.com for immediate job applications.

IHA's third Caring Gene execution generated impressive results, including:

  • Over 1.1 million visits to caringgene.com (a 57 percent increase year-over-year)
  • Over 50,000 job searches (a 75 percent increase year-over-year)
  • The submission of 2,285 applications
  • Exceeding engagement benchmarks for employment advertising two-fold

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Dominick Fils-Aimé is a manager of editorial and content development at ANA.