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Trick or Treat for UNICEF’s Staying Power
Trick of treating is going to look a little different this year, but that’s not stopping UNICEF.
Trick or Treat for UNICEF is going to be all-virtual this year, continuing a 70-year campaign to infuse kids requesting candy with raising money for less fortunate children around the world.
The campaign is a frightfully successful example of an organization that has attached its offering to a broader cultural touchstone – and raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
The History of Trick or Treat for UNICEF
Trick or Treat for UNICEF began right here in Philadelphia. In 1949, Reverend Clyde Allison and his wife Mary Emma saw countless trick or treaters eagerly running from door to door collecting candy and saw an opportunity for good.
The next year, their own children collected nickels and dimes in decorated milk cartons as they made their rounds. They raised $17 for UNICEF and kids in post-World War II Europe.
UNICEF caught wind of the Allisons’ efforts and began an official promotion campaign.
A decade later, 3.5 million American kids were trick or treating for UNICEF.
It’s still going strong today, with celebrity spokespeople and corporate sponsors. Meanwhile, other brands have gotten into the Halloween quarantine spirit, from Krispy Kreme’s reverse trick or treating to Chipotle’s virtual “boorito.” But none have so effectively connected their message to the holiday as UNICEF.
It shows the power of anchoring your offering to a recognized event. It’s particularly meaningful for nonprofits. The industry has worked to forge new charitable traditions around key dates, from Giving Tuesday to a “day on” for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
For UNICEF, the connection lives on thanks to a smart balance of tradition and reinvention. This year’s virtual twist keeps the iconic orange imagery but offers new ways to keep kids and adults interested and expand UNICEF’s impact. There are bonus activities, template fundraising pages and greater choice in where donations go.
Even without being able to go door to door, Trick or Treat for UNICEF will survive thanks to an enduring connection to an established holiday.