Through the introduction of a new donation option where New Yorkers across the metropolitan area could give via their smartphones, New York Cares collected a record-breaking 110,000 coats during the 2016 Coat Drive. With homelessness in New York City reaching near-record highs and the high cost-of-living pushing more residents below the poverty line, requests for coats from shelters, soup kitchens, senior centers, and schools topped 125,000, demonstrating that the need for warm winter coats has never been greater and necessitating more creative coat collection methods.
Based on a few small but successful efforts to raise money through mobile devices in the past, the Coat Drive marketing campaign took our new text-to-give-a-coat message to the general public. Through digital, print, and out-of-home advertising, social media, and individualized outreach to 15 participating corporate partners, we asked New Yorkers to text COAT to 41444, where a donation of $20 would get a brand new winter coat to a neighbor in need. By the end of the drive on December 31st, our mobile giving efforts had raised enough money from 2,500 donors to purchase and distribute 36,000 new coats.
“The need in our city is simply enormous, and we’ve developed the text option to cast a wider net and engage more New Yorkers than ever. We understand that not everyone has an extra coat at home to donate or can make it to a drop-off site, but we know that many people in the metropolitan area can make a text donation.” – Gary Bagley, New York Cares Executive Director
The Coat Drive also saw unprecedented support from collection groups. More than 1,400 companies, civic groups, and individuals stepped up this year to deliver gently used coats through their own private collection efforts. Along with the generous New Yorkers who dropped off at one of our 300 public collection sites, our traditional Coat Drive operation delivered 74,000 coats in 2016.
As the need in NYC has increased, the 2016 Coat Drive has given us an example of how residents have risen to meet the challenge. And we not only have the New Yorkers who gave the coats off their backs or from their closets to thank, but thousands of people from throughout the metropolitan area and beyond who heard the call and sent gifts of warmth through the airwaves.