Highlights from Benton’s Four Decades: The Campaigns for Kids
By Larry Kirkman, Benton Foundation Executive Director, 1989-2001
Combining state-of-the-technologies with traditional and new media, Benton's Campaigns for Kids in the mid-1990's reinvented fulfillment for PSA campaigns in the digital age by replacing 800 phone numbers and brochures with multimedia websites to provide information and resources for action.
It started with a cold call from the Ad Council to the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). In 1996, the Ad Council, with more than $2 billion a year in donated media for public service advertising (PSA), decided to make a ten-year commitment to campaigns on behalf of children as the centerpiece of its work. To launch the initiative, the Ad Council was looking for a partner who could deliver a grassroots network and reinvent fulfillment for PSA campaigns in the digital age (replacing 800 phone numbers and brochures with multimedia websites to provide information and resources for action). CDF said, “That’s not what we do, but you should talk to the Coalition for America’s Children and Larry Kirkman at the Benton Foundation.”
Benton’s partnership with the Ad Council would garner more than $300 million in donated media and establish Benton as a pioneer in internet-based public service communications.
Why was Benton in a position to embrace this collaboration, with its small staff and small endowment?