Catherine Gao's Blog

From Philadelphia to Madrid: The Givology Ford Focus Story

A couple of months ago, the Givology team received an email from Joyce, Givology’s CEO, that our organization had been selected as a finalist for the Ford Focus Global Test Drive. As a Ford Focus finalist, Givology received a $10,000 donation from Ford as well as two all-expense paid trips to Madrid, Spain to test drive the 2012 Ford Focus. Being selected as a finalist has been an incredible opportunity for Givology to expand our NGO partner network as well as to further our mission of supporting students and grassroots education initiatives worldwide.

This opportunity would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of this year’s Givology Management 100 team. Each fall, a group of 10 students from the University of Pennsylvania The Wharton School Management 100 class works with Givology on a semester-long project that builds awareness for Givology’s mission and has several key deliverables determined by the team. The class is meant to teach students about leadership, teamwork, and communication through field projects with nonprofits in the Philadelphia area. This year, our Management 100 team created a short video highlighting what Givology does and the positive impact of our work. We later submitted this video and followed up with an interview conducted by Ford with Givology’s Chapter and PR Coordinators, Yuqing Fan and Timothy Chai.

This campaign kicked off with a launch event in Madrid, Spain to test drive the new Ford Focus. The theme was Start More than a Car. Throughout the weekend, I personally witnessed Ford’s dedication to this theme and saw it manifest through the work of the 40 incredible non-profit winners. Numerous online and social media personalities were also invited to Madrid and helped create the excitement and social buzz around the kick-off weekend.

The first night consisted of a fancy gala dinner that gave us the opportunity to meet the other non-profit finalists as well as the internet bloggers. Throughout the night, the MCs interviewed various attendees about their backgrounds and their non-profit work. During dinner, I got really excited each time the MC interviewed a participant who was involved in an education-related non-profit, since I’m always on the lookout for potential Givology partners! Throughout the next couple of weeks, Givology plans to blog about the various non-profits we’ve met in Spain to highlight some of the amazing work that they do. The first blog post about the More than Me Foundation can be viewed here.

The first night was also interesting in that we had the chance to interact with influential social media and internet journalists. I was fortunate to be seated next to a blogger from Mashable. It was really interesting learning about the work that she does and getting her view on where the future of social media is headed. As an online giving marketplace, Givology relies on the power of social media to help spread our message and to engage our donors and supporters in helping us to achieve our mission of providing education to all.

The second day of the weekend consisted of test driving the Focus at the INTA test tracks. Professional drivers, Tanner Foust and Justin Bell, joined us for the day. The entire day was characterized by a lot of fun and laughs. We first participated in the “Drive Faster” challenge and had to drive the Focus around a test track as fast as we could. Another fun challenge was driving the car into a giant soccer ball to score a goal. Givology ended up excelling in the “Drive Smarter” challenge, in which we were asked to create a short video highlighting the unique attributes of the Focus. Thanks to our partners from the Jubilee Project, we created a sweet video that emphasized the theme of focusing on the family.

The weekend wrapped up with a short excursion and a tutorial on the Ford Focus to better prepare each non-profit for the ownership of a Focus for 6 weeks. Givology plans to use our 6 weeks with the Focus to launch a unique campaign combining social media and the cities of Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New York City. For every day of the 6 weeks, we plan to release a short 60-second video that highlights a particular theme such as education, literacy, giving, etc. The purpose of this campaign is to showcase an inspirational speaker and the work that he or she does in the education space.

Overall, the weekend was quite incredible and an amazing way to kick off each non-profit’s campaign. My favorite part was meeting all of the participants and learning about their work with their respective organizations (stay tuned for our subsequent blog posts about the non-profits we met in Spain). A big thank you to Ford and Action Marketing Group for being such great hosts in Madrid and helping various non-profits connect with each other. The 2010 Focus is not just a car, but rather a symbol that we can all be vehicles of positive social change (no pun intended) in this world. Stay tuned for Givology’s 6 Week YouTube campaign as well as our $10,000 for 10 Schools Benefit this weekend in New York City.

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