What contributed to the success of the history-making UNCF Lou Rawls telethon? Leadership, collaboration, team work, and a respect for the individual goals of participating partners.
In part one of this series, we provided a look at what went on behind the scenes to create a partnership between the UNCF and Anheuser-Busch. Once the initial team members were committed, it was time for creativity and hard work.
Anheuser-Busch, through its resources and financial power, propelled the UNCF telethon into the largest African American special event in the United States held on one day. Wayman Smith, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president for minority affairs, used his position to the fullest extent and changed the face of African American philanthropy in the United States through his efforts with UNCF. He brought on board Victor Julien, then manager of national events and incentives, and independent marketing specialist Byron Glore.
Julien made it his business to make sure that his marketing team – and the resources of Anheuser-Busch – such as their public relations, marketing and sales team were truly behind the telethon and involved. He also ensured they worked closely with local UNCF teams (staff and volunteers) across the country in local Anheuser-Busch markets.
Glore produced the entertainment for the telethon, creating a world-class television show that met the standards of all participating TV stations and networks. It was imperative that the entertainment, talent and production values were all first class. TV stations were donating air time and the telethon had to keep their viewers watching, and attract an expanded audience. An excellent production helped sustain participating stations. As a producer, Glore insisted on diversity at all levels of the production team from writers, to talent, to production staff.
The late Chris Edley then CEO of UNCF, assigned our own Melvin B. Shaw to develop and manage the telethon with special emphasis on staff development, volunteer training and management, sponsorship, and TV/Radio recruiting. Shaw’s team was charged with creating an annual fundraising plan for the telethon, producing the local TV segments; recruiting additional national and local sponsors; developing a network of TV, radio and cable stations to air the telethon; and developing a well-trained pool of staff and volunteers. Early UNCF team members included James Alston, William Allen, Carmen Botto, Jan Honore, Kristie Patton, Stephen McDaniel, Harriet Morgan Ecton, Valerie Davis, William Casey, and Ron Bookman.
This team – and others – helped make the telethon a catalyst through which the African American community supported the goal and mission of UNCF. It engaged people from all across the community, giving each an opportunity to become involved, give, and be recognized on TV and radio.
Before the telethon, there was never a partnership between a corporation and an African American nonprofit at that scale, or with that level of resources behind it. Anheuser-Busch and UNCF developed an ideal cause marketing partnership, one that advanced the internal and external business, financial, and marketing goals of each. Most importantly, this fabulous partnership of resources helped to educate thousands of our young men and women.
Copyright 2016– Mel and Pearl Shaw
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