Make your contest entry stand out

Club offers tips on how other clubs can winWhat does it take to win the Legacy of Play contest, sponsored by Kiwanis International and Landscape Structures, Inc.?

Just ask Subrina Berger, former president of the Kiwanis Club of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Her club was developing plans for an inclusive playground in Kiwanis Bacon Memorial Park when they decided to enter the contest last year, winning US$25,000 in playground equipment from Landscape Structures, Inc.

The playground, which will be finished in 2017 and be the only all-inclusive play space in a five-county area.

“Kids of all ages and abilities will be able to play without fear of being hurt or left out,” she says.

Berger says the Legacy of Play contest was easy to enter. Held on Facebook, the contest asks clubs to post a photo and write a short explanation explaining why their club should win. Online voting is a component to the contest but does not determine the winner—the winning club is selected by a panel of judges that reviews overall planning, community need and maintenance, funding, design, timeframe and the defined role of the sponsoring Kiwanis club.

Berger says her club's winning entry took about 20 minutes to complete. She worked with club members who were familiar with social media to push out information about how to vote and how often to vote. She checked the social media pages of other competing clubs but didn’t follow all of the other clubs’ tactics.

“At times, it was discouraging as I watched other clubs’ social media pages and naturally compared it to what we were doing,” Berger says. “Sometimes it seemed like our little community didn’t have the numbers to complete. But we held on to our dream. We updated our pictures a couple of times to reach different audiences and ages with our story, and that helped. We had a good idea of what would work in our community.”

One of the successful parts of the contest was working with community partners, Berger says. The club’s partners were encouraged to share the Kiwanis club’s posts, and one partner used radio air time to support the contest. Some residents who were not members of the Kiwanis club helped, too, by sharing the information on social media. Berger also took screenshots of the club’s movement up and down in the top 10 and posted those with reminders to vote.

“Constant chatter was necessary as most people will vote once and forget about it. Keeping those posts flowing daily was key in gathering recurring votes every day,” Berger says.

She reached out by email, text message and through Facebook messenger to encourage daily voting. When the club achieved a top 10 ranking, Berger says she and other club members realized victory was possible.

“I reached out to people’s hearts and explained the benefits of this new playground being available and accessible to children in our community who don’t have a safe place to play. My motivation was always the playground—whether we won or not, the playground was going to happen,” Berger says.

Berger says she fell to her knees and cried when she got the call from Kiwanis notifying her that the club had won. She made the announcement at a special club meeting, where she presented a simple poster that read, “We won.” Some club members jumped up and down.

The Kiwanis Club of Poplar Bluff was one of 40 clubs that entered the contest in 2016; in 2015, 37 clubs entered the contest.

“Everyone knew we had done something amazing,” Berger says. “We had been selected to receive a gift that would change the course of playtime for the children in our community for years to come. It was overwhelming. And it was wonderful.”

LEGACY OF PLAY CONTEST TIPS

  • Familiarize yourself with the Facebook contest.
  • Define your message. Poplar Bluff’s message was that children can learn to play together, side by side, without their differences determining how they play. They stressed that children who play together grow up to work together. Use that or a similar message on all communications channels.
  • Identify community partners and ask them to help.
  • Engage club members and other volunteers to share messages on social media and to encourage the daily voting—keep up the chatter!
  • Change your social media photos and messages to increase reach. Use photos of children playing together.
  • Know what motivates your community to participate.
  • Use local media to help spread the word and encourage online voting.
  • Make it part of your day to vote.
  • Vote first thing every day.
  • Keep sharing the enthusiasm with your club members.