Housing Matters

Making Noise and Raising Awareness

Serving over 3,000 people in 2023 alone, Housing Matters provides services and programs that impact the majority of people experiencing homelessness in Santa Cruz County, the second-most expensive metro area for renters in the country, according to a July 2022 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. With a population severely impacted by the county’s affordability crisis the community needed Housing Matters more than ever. With several key initiatives in the pipeline to move the needle on its mission to create pathways out of homelessness for individuals and families, the organization needed an effective and impactful year-end campaign that hit home with its donor audience and spurred them to action.

The Challenge

The first and most important milestone was establishing a campaign concept that commanded attention and generated clicks, thereby generating donations and awareness. Discovery conversations provided key insights that directed initial ideation. Community and, more importantly, community action were important elements to consider and the Housing Matters team felt that their brand story had become a little flat. They were ready to shake things up and open to a little irreverence.

Taking inspiration from the holiday season and Santa Cruz’s history of activism we landed on Peace, Love, Give a Damn, a campaign theme that demanded attention while remaining positive with a subtle holiday softness and sensitivity to those in need. The direct, slightly irreverent tone got right to the point and called on the audience to show up, give a damn and donate.

With the overarching campaign concept and messaging in place, we moved on to the visual identity. Working with the Housing Matters team’s feedback we quickly narrowed down logo concepts and chose a direction that incorporated strong typography and simple graphics. Several iterations refined the details and led us to an eye-catching logo that powerfully married the visual and verbal elements of the campaign.

Housing Matters - Concept 1
Housing Matters - Concept 2
Housing Matters - Concept 1

The Launch 

In the final phase of the process, we designed and developed a suite of assets for the campaign launch, including banner ads, emails and social media posts. Once designs were approved, we built a toolkit in Adobe Express, providing templates for the deliverables our team designed and a suite of assets allowing the client to create additional pieces such as direct mailers.

Housing Matters - Sketch
Housing Matters - Email Graphics

The Results

The campaign had two key goals: increase donations and raise community awareness for Housing Matters and the issue of homelessness. We intentionally crafted the campaign to break through the noise at a very busy time of the year, which is exactly what it did. 

Campaign Goal
Increase donations by 10% from prior year

Campaign Result
Increased donations by +32%, exceeding goal by +22%

The success of the campaign contributed to an overall significant increase in FY2022 total donations for the year, as compared to FY2021, including increases in the total number of individual donors and individual donations as well as total donation dollars.

Housing Matters - Graphics
Housing Matters - Graphics

This growth in donations had a measurable impact on Housing Matters’ bottom line, with the organization seeing revenue grow from $6.2M in FY 2021 to $11.9M in Fiscal Year 2023. Most importantly, increased funds mean a greater impact on the community. In 2023 Housing Matters was able to help 30% more people find stable housing than in 2022 and 2024 will bring the groundbreaking for a new 121-unit, 5-story permanent supportive housing project.

Housing Matters - Adobe Express Graphics
Housing Matters - T-Shirt on Logo
Housing Matters - Blue Sticker with White Logo

The secondary goal of raising awareness was just as successful as the primary goal of increasing donations. While increased donation dollars and individual donors speak to increased awareness, a more tangible realization of the goal came with the success of the first-ever March to End Homelessness. More than 500 community members joined this inaugural event, highlighting the community’s capacity for care, support and willingness to come together for a larger community conversation about ending homelessness.

Housing Matters - Social Graphics

Building on Success

Peace, Love, Give a Damn campaign was successful, relevant and fresh – so much so that the Housing Matters team felt it still had a lot of life left a year later. The 2023 year-end campaign was a natural, loose extension of the original campaign concept,  leveraging the 2022 campaign and taking it further. The refreshed theme, Listen Louder, subtly and indirectly told the community and donor audience “We still give a damn—show you do, too, by supporting Housing Matters.”

Housing-Matters-EOY-Campaign-Concept-3 1
HM-ListenLouder-FullColor-Logo 1
HM-2023-EoY-BrandGuidelines 1

Primary Artwork included slivers of photos that created a megaphone, tying back to the campaign theme and naturally connecting to the still recognizable 2022 campaign visuals. Spotlight Artwork supported the campaign by focusing on the untold stories of the unhoused and bringing new humanity to the community’s most silenced neighbors.

The new iteration of the campaign aimed to leverage the success of the primary campaign icon, the megaphone because of its resonance and effectiveness. Housing Matters needed ways to amplify its message, demonstrating its devotion to those in need. Speaking louder, however, emphasized the need to listen more intently to the needs of those Housing Matters serves, inspiring the new theme, Listen Louder

HM-2023-EoYCampaign-BusPoster Mockup

Creatively, we developed campaign elements that incorporated faces intricately crafted within the shapes of the megaphone. Using the faces of homeless individuals who rely on Housing Matters services injected a great sense of empathy into the campaign and served as a catalyst for other key assets developed for the campaign.

This approach was a departure from the conventional, showcasing a brand that refuses to stagnate and continually strives to uphold momentum by evolving the campaign with fresh, innovative ideas.

Direct calls to action such as Actions speak louder than words, Rise above the noise and Donate to make a difference called on the community to show they still give a damn and do more.

HM-2023-EoYCampaign-Social Media Mockup

The Waltz team is honored to have worked with Housing Matters through several phases of growth and evolution. From renaming and rebranding, two new websites and countless pieces of collateral to several successful Capital and Year-End campaigns, we are proud to be a small part of the impact this important organization has in Santa Cruz County and look forward to continuing to support Housing Matters as they work with the community to resolve homelessness.