How Success Came For Harrie Bakst and Sara Weinstein
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When Bakst and Weinstein first launched WCPG, their goal was to build an impact-driven business by serving as an agency for brands seeking advice and execution for partnership purposes. But the idea that an agency would be regularly retained by a brand to advise and execute impactful partnerships was a new concept in 2010.
Harrie Bakst and Sara Weinstein
Eleven years after the launch of WCPG, the purpose of a brand is more important than ever. Bakst and Weinstein were ahead of their time in the changing world of goal-driven businesses. Time and changing societal attitudes have supported their thinking and led to explosive growth in both their impact and their business results.
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In their early days, WCPG quickly recognized that some of the largest charities in the world had strong development teams, but only approached a brand’s philanthropic offices for partnerships. Bakst and Weinstein considered this question and began to ask: What if we could embed the whole company in these philanthropic efforts and align all the resources of the different philanthropy departments? As Bakst recalls, “We knew that if we packed our clients with tangible assets, charities could enter into business partnerships with companies funded not only by the philanthropic branch, but also by public relations, marketing and various parties. key stakeholders of the company. Our early successes have a lot to do with identifying these 360 degree partnerships and working hand in hand with visionary partners to achieve their goals.
Cancer survivor Bakst had a long-term relationship with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and saw an opportunity for them to create a strong partner program for their Cycle For Survival fundraising campaign. Bakst went to market with this idea and negotiated major sponsorships with Smart Water, New Balance, and Tag Heuer. But these were not agreements based solely on charity; they had marketing feedback for the partner companies. For example, with Tag Heuer, WCPG helped create the Tag Heuer Challenge where brand ambassadors such as Tom Brady, Patrick Dempsey, and others encouraged their fans to donate to the cause in a social media campaign. .
These early case studies served as the spark to ignite the flame of WCPG’s growing list of clients which at the time included organizations such as Sean Penn’s CORE, Nick Jonas’ Beyond Type 1, The White Ribbon Alliance and ‘others.
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But to develop the business, they wanted to offer similar partnership services, but this time to brands. First, Bakst and Weinstein had to find a Fortune 500 partner who would appreciate their in-depth understanding of corporate goals and premier charitable giving. Recognizing that they were in a unique position, they tested their theory in 2015 with their first major brand partner, Revlon.
Revlon came to WCPG wanting to create a new way to excite their giving efforts around women’s health. Instead of working with just one charity, Weinstein suggested they work with all of them. Weinstein collaborated with Robert Wolfe, Founder of CrowdRise, and now WCPG Advisor, to create the Revlon LOVE IS ON Million Dollar Challenge. The groundbreaking competition invited women’s health charities to raise funds to support their own missions and offered a top prize of $ 1 million to the charity that raised the most money, as well as other financial awards for other charities that have contributed to or achieved their overall goals.
“All of a sudden, Revlon had charities across the country activating their massive networks to support this effort, while also promoting Revlon organically,” Weinstein said. “And for an added media moment, the effort ended each year with a press event with Revlon ambassadors, including Olivia Wilde and Halle Berry, presenting donations to charities.” This effort was so special because Revlon was able to take her initial cash donation and use it to help women’s health charities raise over $ 11 million in just two years.
Another big moment came for WCPG, when Unilever launched its first social impact brand, The Right To Shower, a line of head-to-toe soap products that donates sales proceeds to fund mobile shower trucks to across the United States helping homeless people. Despite the normal list of mandated agencies, WCPG has come to create and execute their national and regional led partnership strategy. In December 2019 create the largest manifestation of solidarity and support in the world towards homeless and displaced people.
Now, with offices in New York and Los Angeles, hundreds of millions of dollars raised for charity and countless branded offers, what’s next for WCPG? Weinstein says, “Our plan is to continue to be great partners, surround ourselves with smart people, and believe in the power of our work to make a difference. She added: “And to accelerate our growth in a major way.”
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