Pop-up agency proves it’s better to Give than receive

Like a lot of non-profits, Future Possibilities for Kids’ (FPK) desire to do good frequently exceeds its resources.

The Toronto based organization pairs youngsters with “kid-coaches,” who help them develop leadership skills by identifying ways they can affect change in their communities. They’ve built playgrounds, cleaned up neighbourhoods and created programs to welcome new children to their schools.

FPK matched 175 kids with coaches this year, and has set an ambitious goal of 300 matches for this fall, says executive creative director Rickesh Lakhani. The bigger goal means new fundraising challenges. “How do we recruit more volunteers, get more companies and individuals involved and donating as well,” he said. Help might come from a special communications agency opening its doors in Toronto for just four days next week.

The Give Agency is essentially a pop-up agency, operated by volunteer advertising, strategy and communications experts all donating their time and expertise to non-profits requiring assistance with their financial, marketing and engagement challenges.

Founded in Halifax in 2016 by Brian Hickling, Mike Maloney and Chaz Thorne, The Give Agency has since expanded into Toronto and Montreal. Setting up shop at the Corus Building in downtown Toronto Monday through Thursday, the agency will deploy a “barn-raising” process with 160 industry pros delivering as many as 100 ideas in a single day day for each of four participating non profits—FPK gets its turn on Monday.

“When you bring together world-class experts, their ideas generate world-class results,” said Maloney in a release. “We’ve seen that so many times in the past two years here. All it takes is one great idea to change the world. And our goal is to create dozens of them in just four days.”

FPK relies on government funding for about 40% of its operating expenses, with the remainder coming from corporate, group and personal donations. “We know that to fulfill our growth strategy we need to raise an additional $600,000 over the next three years,” says Lakhani.

The organization has mostly relied on word-of-mouth and social media advertising, but needs to move to another level in order to achieve its growth targets.

“How do we increase the pull factor?” says Lakhani. “We can push information out to our community, but now it is about raising the profile of what we are doing so that people are coming to us.” If things go as expected, by the end of day Monday, he’ll have a large number of new ideas about how to do that.

David Brown