Marketing can be complex even for the marketing savvy. Brands, whether products, people or countries leverage marketing communications, including PR to gain positive awareness proactively and reactively, and regardless of whether news surrounding their brand is good or bad.

The same is true of successful philanthropic brands, such as Goodwill, Salvation Army or WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). These reputable brands take pride in their name, identity, values and offering just as much as any commercial brand. The difference with Non-Profit Organisations or NPOs, such as More Community Foundation (MCF) is in their revenue model. NPOs are simply a channel for distribution of funds to identified beneficiaries. On the other hand, commercial brands are in business for growth through profits and subsequent re-investment mainly to meet the demands of stakeholders looking for a return on their financial or human capital investment. In addition, NPOs and their donors, unique to commercial entities, benefit from private and government support that help to ease some of the burdens of tax, operating costs and other liabilities that would otherwise lessen the impact of donations meant to support beneficiaries.

More Community Foundation is a non-profit organisation and the Foundation for the MORE Family Collection group, supporting social development and environmental conservation in Southern Africa. More Community Foundation’s purpose is to provide long-term, meaningful contribution to community development and the conservation of the natural resources where MORE Family Collection operates. So, while MORE Family Collection has marketed their hospitality services and awesome destinations, More Community Foundation has worked quietly in the background in their focus area of community and conservation. However, due to social impact marketing and commercial and philanthropic partners, MCF has started to make some meaningful noise around the cause for sustainability.

A purpose built brand with a passion for societal change cannot keep still or be silenced. Michelle Scott of More Community Foundation leads a diligent team of professionals working tirelessly year round in Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Marakele Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Kruger National Park. They had been challenged with creating and developing a fundraiser that would meet the vast needs of community and conservation while maintaining the all-important values of the group. Introducing The Extra Mile, a trail run with heart.

It started in 2018 as the only fundraiser for More Community Foundation. Not your common fundraiser that requests the ‘haves’ to give to the ‘have nots.’ More Community Foundation works on the principles of sustainability and therefore encourages beneficiaries to get involved where they can with what they have so that donors can be that encouragement of ‘how to fish’ better instead of being the short-lived fish that allows those in need to only ‘eat for a day.’

The community is encouraged to join in the trail run. Whether the 5km Rhino Run, 10km Pangolin or the 21km Wild Dog route, they just have to put their hand up to sign-up to run for their community. MCF solicits partner funding from various sponsors for T-shirts, buffs, medals, water points, logistics and goodies that help to make the experience memorable and worthwhile for each community runner. Finally, individuals are encouraged to sponsor a community runner for only R100 so that they can run any distance they like and receive a valuable goodie bag along with The Extra Mile branded merchandise.

We’ve always marketed the charity run with digital flyers on social media, a few radio interviews on Radio Laeveld and community and school engagements from Mbombela to White River to Bushbuck Ridge itself in order to help drive awareness around sustainability, ubuntu and community upliftment while promoting the race. However, this year was remarkably different.

More sponsors than ever before wanted to contribute and participate. I believe it was in large part due to the lack and loss most of us experienced during COVID with the ensuing lockdown restrictions. People seemed eager to give because they experienced the feeling first-hand and were empathetic to the need. Also, when Michelle and I visited organisations during our Extra Mile PR and Community Engagement roadshows, you could sense a spirit of resilience and activism. People just wanted to give!

Although each and every one of our Extra Mile sponsors made a difference, there were three in particular that I would like to highlight here who truly went the extra mile!

I have been extremely fortunate to work with JacarandaFM over the years, especially with charitable events. If you are familiar with their flagship brand of giving, “Good Morning Angels,” then you have a very good idea of how the media brand approaches and appreciates giving when it comes to community. When I approached JacarandaFM in the early days of The Extra Mile, they were keen to get involved, and because of the regional nature of the live event in Mpumalanga, Presenter Sascha van Gelder of JacarandaFM who broadcasts from the Lowveld was only keen to support us with interviews and promotions.

This year, however, was simply next level. JacarandFM and More Community Foundation were able to negotiate our very first Outside Broadcast (OB) of the event! Sascha broadcast the event live from the JacarandaFM OB van from Huntington Village. What a treat! JacarandaFM listeners as well as The Extra Mile participants, spectators, vendors, sponsors and the community at-large got to enjoy JacarandaFM from the epicentre of The Extra Mile!

Besides the live interviews on the day, great music and Sascha’s support of giving back to the community with her on and off-air genuine personality, we were grateful to have three unique radio spots that ran for two weeks in the lead up to the event. I was tasked with conceptualizing, writing and performing the voiceover for the three radio spots. JacarandaFM helped to produce the radio spots and give each creative execution the professional attention and finesse it deserved so that the spots could rise above the clutter of radio advertising.

Together with JacarandaFM, MCF produced Village Run, Our Community and Wild Dog :30 spots. Village Run was targeted at runners to entice them to enter a run for charity unlike any other road run or trail run. Our Community spoke to the dire need of the region donors would be supporting through The Extra Mile, especially because of the current climate post COVID. Finally, Wild Dog was aimed at the heart of conservationists and nature lovers. This ad represented our endangered specie that we target as our beneficiary for 35% of the funding (the balance is allocated to specific communities in the region for Early Childhood Development or projects that support water, enterprise development or improvement of living standards).

Mopani Pharmacy
Although JacarandaFM negotiated a generous deal with More Community Foundation on the media, including radio airtime, interviews and the OB, there was still a fee. Afterall the OB van and its technicians cannot live on goodwill alone! So, once again, we needed to find a sponsor who would be willing to support The Extra Mile by going the extra mile!

Mopani Pharmacy was such a good fit for The Extra Mile as neighbourhood community pharmacy since 1982. They gladly took on the expense of supporting the media coverage from JacarandaFM, and got to enjoy being part of a community celebration on-air as well as live in Huntington Village. Mopani handed out sunscreen before the race and provided goodie bags to runners throughout the day!

If it had not been for Mopani Pharmacy a huge aspect of the race would have been missing! I am confident that not only can we count on JacarandaFM in 2023 and beyond, but Mopani is likely going the extra mile with us well into the future. And that’s awesome!

I have had a long standing relationship with SPAR both nationally and regionally. Their brand values support family, community and entrepreneurship. Those values suit perfectly The Extra Mile brand property and More Community Foundation as an NPO.

SPAR is well known for hosting the most beautiful road race in the country called the SPAR Women’s Challenge. During COVID, they were the fore runners in terms of how to keep the scheduled races on the calendar, but with significant modifications. The Extra Mile is a much smaller brand property than the SPAR Women’s Challenge which hosts tens of thousands of women and supporters running 10kms across six major South African cities. So, it was smart for MCF to take its cue for how to keep The Extra Mile alive in 2020 and 2021 by modelling after the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge.

Connecting communities is a mantra for The Extra Mile that goes hand-in-hand with the race properties marketing tagline, “running for our communities.” SPAR gets it! They too want to connect communities in positive ways through everything they do. So, the partnership was an easy fit.

This year, SPAR saw to it that every community runner and every marshal on the day of The Extra Mile received a SPAR voucher that could be redeemed at any SPAR store. And since SPAR is in the Bushbuck Ridge community, it made it easy for recipients to take advantage of the generous donation from SPAR.

Social Impact Marketing is critical towards building awareness around the need for giving, identifying beneficiaries and their specific challenges and outlining the vital transparency of the NPO who is responsible for distributing the funding from donors to beneficiaries. Through conscientious partners, More Community Foundation was able to build awareness around The Extra Mile and communicate how this fundraiser will help to make our planet more sustainable.