Any nonprofit organization knows the strategic importance of volunteers in delivering programs to clients, helping fundraise, and providing administrative support. Here at the Alzheimer’s Association, our volunteers are also the “secret sauce” in our marketing efforts, including our brand.
The Alzheimer’s Association was founded in 1980 by a group of family caregivers and concerned individuals who recognized the unmet need for an organization that would unite caregivers, provide support to those facing Alzheimer’s, and advance research into the disease.
Today, the Association reaches millions of people affected by Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. We are the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research.
The brand of the Alzheimer’s Association represents who we are and what we do and is encapsulated in the simple geometric “People & Science” symbol in our logo. It is both a visual representation of our dual mission of people and science and a commitment that guides us in our daily work in providing support, research, advocacy, and education.
While we have evolved our look over the years, we have not veered from our purpose: We are the Alzheimer’s Association and our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia®.
Purple is our signature color, combining the calm stability of blue and the passionate energy of red. Purple makes a statement about our Association and our supporters: we are strong and unrelenting in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
The power of our ALZ marketing efforts comes from our volunteers. Volunteers are truly the driving force behind everything we do, from facilitating support groups to promoting and delivering education programs to leading committees that plan and promote our signature event, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s®.
Nationwide initiatives from the Alzheimer’s Association help raise concern and awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia and move people to take action in the fight against the disease. With local chapters throughout the country, the Alzheimer’s Association Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter works to amplify the messaging from our nationwide initiatives while driving marketing efforts that connect local communities with our support programs and services.
Utilizing a variety of channels, such as email, social media, and earned media, we focus on driving attendance at and participation in our programs and events. While these traditional methods help contribute to some of the success, a major source of our marketing power lies in our broad network of volunteers.
We empower our outstanding volunteers to deliver many of our educational programs that feature information on topics such as diagnosis, warning signs, effective communication, living with Alzheimer’s disease, and caregiving. Volunteers also lead many of our support groups, whether for caregivers or for those who have been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Armed with personal, lived experience and stories from delivering programs directly to our clients, we’ve found volunteers with programmatic experience to be some of our most effective and valuable brand ambassadors for advocacy, fundraising, and more.
Speaking of fundraising, nowhere is the marketing power of our volunteers and community champions more apparent than with the efforts around Walk. The Planning Committees for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s events all around the country are comprised entirely of volunteers who dedicate their time to ensuring the success of the event. Business leaders, community influencers, and regular participants join forces to raise awareness and make connections through a variety of recruitment and engagement strategies.
While paid marketing plays a role in reaching new audiences, it’s the boots-on-the-ground efforts driven largely by the committee that bring people to register, form teams, and fundraise. Committee members lead the way in making new connections with businesses who then become sponsors, with community groups who then form teams, and with their networks of friends and family to bring more people into the cause. They canvass local communities with posters and flyers to “Paint the Town Purple,” host their own fundraising events to help recruit participants, and utilize their own networks to get the word out far and wide.
In the same way as our volunteers who directly support our programs, our fundraising volunteers are often the face of the Alzheimer’s Association with the general public and, therefore, how our brand is perceived. Their one-on-one interactions and personal stories are more powerful than any other channel or content in moving the needle not just for Walk but for attracting new volunteers as well.
Our Walk to End Alzheimer’s had to pivot to a virtual model in 2020 where we encouraged people to walk in their own neighborhoods, parks, or wherever they wanted to participate and felt safe doing so. In conjunction with this shift, we took our pre-existing Walk mobile app along with volunteer feedback and added some unique functionality that brought the Walk experience to every participants’ smartphone, wherever they chose to walk in 2020. The new functionality, which remains in use and is a great bonus for participants who have always supported an individual Walk from a distance, includes the ability to track your steps and distance along a virtual Walk path, receive motivational messages recorded by celebrities, and navigate an interactive promise garden where you can view messages written on the flowers and even write one of your own just like at an in-person Walk.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of just about any nonprofit organization. At the Alzheimer’s Association, we’ve learned the power of our volunteers can extend beyond traditional volunteer roles to being a major pillar supporting our brand and the most powerful force driving our marketing activities.
Learn more about ways to get involved with The Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research and it simply would not be possible without the strength and dedication of our volunteers. This year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s will take place in communities near you! Help us get the word out, form a team, raise some funds, and join us for a fun event that’s sure to inspire.
Together, we can end Alzheimer’s and ALL other dementia.
2022 Walks to End Alzheimer’s in the Bay Area:
Sonoma-Marin: Saturday, October 8 at Green Music Center in Sonoma State University; registration at act.alz.org/sonoma-marin
Silicon Valley: Saturday, October 15 at Excite Ballpark in San Jose; registration at act.alz.org/siliconvalley
East Bay: Saturday, October 29 at Bishop Ranch in San Ramon; registration at act.alz.org/eastbay
San Francisco: Saturday, November 5 at Pier 27 in San Francisco; registration at act.alz.org/sanfrancisco