Phil & Co., the New York City agency that specializes in contemporary marketing for philanthropies and companies doing good, named the national organization as its inaugural winner to receive a free strategic marketing campaign.
The rapidly expanding Swipes for the Homeless, which began just four years ago, has swiftly grown into a national nonprofit organization that enables students to donate leftover meal plan “swipes” that would otherwise go to waste at the end of each academic term. Swipes for the Homeless then exchanges these leftover meal credits for nonperishable goods it donates to reputable local organizations that feed the homeless.
Since its founding in 2009 by UCLA students Bryan Pezeshki and Thach “Tak” Nguyen, Swipes for the Homeless has donated more than 35,000 pounds of food to the homeless in its hub city of Los Angeles alone, and the organization is already expanding internationally. More than 30 campuses are in the process of developing a Swipes program, and Swipes is already in place at the University of Southern California, the University of California in Berkeley, the University of Texas-San Marcos and the University of Paris in France.
“College students are very altruistic and they want to create positive change in their communities, but they lack money and time – two ingredients essential to do so,” said Nguyen. “The reason Swipes for the Homeless has become so successful so quickly is because it allows students to donate the one extra thing they do have – unused “swipes” from their meal plans that expire at the end of each academic term – simply by signing a form. Our team then takes care of collecting and transporting the food that has been donated to local populations in need.”
Even having garnered coverage in publications such as Forbes magazine and The Los Angeles Times and commendations by a spectrum of institutions from MTV to the White House, Swipes for the Homeless is run by an all-volunteer staff who have other fulltime responsibilities and operate on a shoe-string budget primarily used to pay for rental vehicles to transport the food to local organizations that feed the homeless.
“We wanted to find an organization that was doing good in their community in a new way,” said Phil & Co. partner Gary Zarr. “The energetic and passionate staff of Swipes for the Homeless impressed us with their original idea to turn a mundane part of most college students’ lives into vital sustenance for a population in need and with their drive to see this idea expanded across the country.”
“We’re thrilled to start work with Phil & Co. and look forward to their help so that we can expand to more universities around the country” said Nguyen. “We’d like to turn donating extra meal “swipes” at the end of each term into a college experience that is as typical as living in a dorm or eating in a dining hall. We’ve been able to do so much good with so little capital. It’s mind-boggling for us to imagine how much we could help the homeless with the right media campaign and agency to back us.”
“Swipes for the Homeless embodies the spirit of forward thinking and innovation that we at Phil & Co. feel are key catalysts for positive change,” said Phil & Co. partner Cliff Sloan. “We look forward to enhancing their success and raising awareness of their work.”
Phil & Co. is a full-service marketing, public relations, digital and advertising agency that excels in cause marketing that humanizes brands, builds awareness and drives purchase and support. The agency launched the PHILfactor contest in September to give back to the community and reward an innovative and deserving philanthropy with a pro-bono marketing campaign with an estimated value of $25,000.