Liz Henderson learns how a new partnership between Vodafone Foundation and Hello Sunday Morning is improving Australian’s health and wellbeing, one less hangover – and one app sign-up – at a time.

Hello Sunday Morning phone appHearing through promotions by the corporate partnership matchmaker, Cavill + Co, that Vodafone Foundation was offering a new grant opportunity, Jamie Moore, the General Manager at Hello Sunday Morning (HSM), says his instant excitement was well-founded. “It honestly seemed too good to be true and like it was written just for us,” he remembers.

The telco’s charitable foundation had hired Cavill + Co to manage the pitch process in its quest to find a new community partnership to further its purpose, which Vodafone Foundation Head, Alyssa Jones, says “is to support charities to harness the power of mobile technology, to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians. HSM’s mission is to provide world-class technology to help people change their relationship with alcohol. So there exists a great synergy.”

Working with Cavill + Co’s Founder and Director, Hailey Cavill (whose HeartSmart program he had also completed in a previous role), Moore says HSM aimed to clearly portray that synergy – first in an initial written application and then, after becoming one of five organisations shortlisted from 60 applications, in a 30-minute pitch to Vodafone Foundation.

“Vodafone Foundation had provided a lot of information about their goals so we really focused on this and made sure we reiterated the synergies at every opportunity,” he says. “On the pitch day, I presented to a panel of 10 employees from Vodafone – it was a little daunting but I was super well-prepared and they were friendly and asked lots of great questions.”

An uncertain wait was followed by great news last August – the hard work had been successful. “We signed a grant agreement and worked with Vodafone Foundation on a plan of activities for year one,” says Moore.

$300,000 for three years – and an ’appy hour

The newly minted relationship has seen Vodafone Foundation commit to provide over $300,000 in funding for HSM over the next three years. HSM used some of the funding to enable development and launch of an iPhone app in April 2015. The app gives people a tool to help them moderate their drinking, complementing an online community platform for those taking a break from the habit.

It allows users to choose challenges to re-set their habits – such as going to yoga instead of drinks after work, or deciding on their maximum number of drinks before heading out. Then they can spend just a few minutes checking off success against these goals each Sunday morning.

An app, Moore says, “was a natural progression for us – 60% of our community of more than 40,000 people were accessing our online program via their mobile phone. So there was a big appetite for a mobile solution. Plus our online program asks users to take a break from drinking for three-plus months, which can be pretty daunting for some.”

Where many new apps fail to get traction, “We achieved all our goals,” says a proud Moore, “with 10,000 app downloads and our online sign-ups doubling to a total of 50,000. And we received some great coverage through media and engagement on social media.”

The next step is to improve some of the technology platforms being used, launching an Android version of the app, adds Moore, and “continue the conversation to get more Australians reclaiming their Sundays.”

What each side brings to the table

“Fortunately HSM is big on tracking their impact, so we’ll be able to use this information to gauge if our support has helped to shift alcohol consumption among users,” says Vodafone’s Jones. The charity is also acknowledging the support on its website and in the app, and HSM representatives have spoken at Vodafone staff functions and media events.

Moore says Vodafone has also provided in-kind support on top of the funding from the Foundation – from employees helping with fundraising and volunteering at HSM university student activations, to assisting with promoting the charity brand and app amongst customer and employees, including on social media and with posters in Vodafone stores. Also, he points out, “we’ve had some fun celebrating the success of the iPhone launch together … and it didn’t involve drinking!!”

What sealed the deal for Vodafone Foundation

“HSM is a seriously impressive outfit – they have the winning combination of an inspiring brand using technology and social media to deliver a public health service,” praises Jones. “They measure their impact and use this information to re-inform their technology and direction. And when they pitched to Vodafone Foundation it was clear they had done their research. They spoke to us in our language. We didn’t have to use our imagination to envisage them as a partner.”

However, she explains: “We did have a slight concern that Vodafone staff wouldn’t warm to a charity that is about thinking about your drinking! But the work HSM had done to position its brand as a positive and aspirational movement rather than a sobriety movement, meant our concerns were unfounded and the response has been fantastic.”

Jones says Vodafone Foundation’s commitment to a three-year partnership was because “we know it takes some time to get a partnership humming along.” But she envisages the possibility of a bigger future as the charity works to meet its goal of helping 200,000 Australians change their relationship with alcohol by 2017.

“There are 28 Vodafone Foundations around the world and they’re all focused on using technology for good,” Jones notes. “So there is definitely potential for us to introduce HSM to other markets that might also have a drinking culture issue. If and when HSM are ready for this – we’ll help to make it happen.”

 

Liz Henderson is editor of Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine.

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